New Delhi, July 20: India's government is holding up Facebook's plans for a nationwide launch of its WhatsApp payments service over concerns about how users' data will be stored and other issues, according to people familiar with the matter.
The country's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, or MeitY, has asked WhatsApp and its partner banks to supply more details about the payments system, said ministry officials, who asked not to be named because the matter is private.
The ministry has also requested that the industry's payments overseer, the National Payments Corporation of India, confirm that WhatsApp is fully compliant with its requirements, they said.
"We are working closely with the Indian government, NPCI and multiple banks including our payment service providers to expand the feature to more people," Anne Yeh, a WhatsApp spokeswoman, said in response to emailed questions, declining to elaborate on the timing of a country-wide launch. Dilip Asbe, NPCI's chief executive officer, declined to comment.
The delay comes just as WhatsApp has been embroiled in a controversy over lynchings in the country. Doctored images and fake videos on the messaging platform of child abductions have gone viral in rural areas, whipping up mobs who have beaten and lynched about two dozen Indians.
On Thursday, MeitY warned in a statement the company faces legal action for abetting violence if it doesn't act. WhatsApp didn't respond to requests for comment on the Ministry's statement.