Google recently rebranded its digital payments app Google Tez to Google Pay, which like the WhatsApp payments service is also based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
Google, however, strongly denied that it monetizes the payments data of users by selling it to advertisers of Google Pay and clarified that the company does not use individual UPI transactions for “any monetization purpose."
“Google Pay users have a direct relationship with Google—as per Google Pay terms of service a Google Account is opened with Google LLC. A common Google Account allows for checks and controls required for managing risk, fraud, spam, and for enhancing security measures, that are applied across Google products. It runs as a common thread across Google products allowing for seamlessness of service that a user can avail of and benefit from. Google does not use any individual UPI transactions data for any monetization purpose e.g. for advertisements," a Google spokesperson said in an email to Mint.
“Google Pay shares user data as may be required for the purpose of processing transactions or providing Google Pay Services with our authorised partners. These include participating banks, banks on UPI infrastructure, bill aggregators, merchants on the Google Pay for Business program and with whom the users are transacting and billers such as utility services, etc. Sharing of this information is in accordance with the applicable laws and requisite consent obtained from the user and in conformity with standard industry practice," Google added.
“India is in the process of drafting its personal data protection bill for safeguarding citizen’s privacy and security in the digital domain. Against this backdrop, it is of utmost concern that global companies are sharing Indian user’s personal data among group companies and unnamed third parties inside and outside of India," said Paytm in the letter. Mint has reviewed a copy of that letter.
“These privacy issues around sharing of data will continue to go on unless the data privacy law is actually implemented. There is a problem with most payment apps today and it can only get resolved when there is specific consent based sharing," said a payments industry expert, who tracks digital payments businesses. He requested anonymity.
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To be sure, Paytm also runs an integrated app that has a payments platform, bank as well as e-commerce arm Paytm Mall. It could not be ascertained whether the platforms indulge in data sharing and the types of data.
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Earlier in September, Google had agreed to comply with the data localisation norms set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), but sought an extension of the deadline to put a proper mechanism in place.