Bengaluru/New Delhi: Internet search engine giant Google, which last year entered India’s booming digital payments business, has said it may share the payments data of customers with third-party service providers, according to a clause in Google Pay’s privacy policy. The company has however denied that it shares user data for monetization purposes such as advertising and said it has updated its privacy policy accordingly.

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).

“You hereby expressly consent to and permit Google, group companies and the payment participants to collect, store, disclose and share your information with each other or other third party service providers for the purpose of providing Google Pay Services either through the Google Pay App or any other platform. Such information may include but will not be limited to your personal information such as your name, address, Google account or payment instruction details, all transaction details, any communication made through Google Pay or message that you send with the transaction or information with respect to third parties and the recipients," according to a clause in Google Pay’s privacy policy.

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.

Separately, India’s largest digital payments service Paytm, which competes with Google Pay and WhatsApp payments, has written to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and complained about Google Pay’s privacy policy clauses.

“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.

Google Pay’s privacy policy for sharing user data have drawn comparisons to that of WhatsApp payments service, according to experts tracking the payments sector. Mint first reported in April that WhatsApp had said that it may share customers’ payments data with its parent Facebook.

“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.

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