Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

RBI seeks fortnightly updates from payments firms on data storage

The central bank had on 6 April asked payment system operators to store data related to payments in India

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sought fortnightly updates from payments companies on the progress made on storing data in India, said T.R. Ramachandran, group country manager, India and South Asia, Visa.

“They have asked us for fortnightly updates on the progress, which was there as part of the circular itself," Ramachandran said on the sidelines of the US-India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit in Mumbai on Wednesday. The central bank had on 6 April asked payment system operators to store data related to payments in India.

While the RBI circular had set 15 October as the compliance deadline, it had not mentioned the fortnightly updates.

“All system providers shall ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India. This data should include the full end-to-end transaction details/information collected/carried/processed as part of the message/payment instruction," the circular had said, adding that for the overseas leg of the transaction, the data can also be stored in the foreign country.

The regulations are expected to affect companies such as Mastercard, American Express, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Visa and PayPal, among others.

Asked if Visa is on track to meet the deadline, Ramachandran declined to comment. “These are very complex projects. As you know, the RBI circular was sometime in April, asking for compliance by October. So I think, different companies are at different stages. I can’t comment specifically on where we are."

RBI did not respond to an email query sent on Monday, seeking comments on the development.

Ramachandran added that many companies have informed the central bank that they would require more time, given the complexity of the issue.

“I think industry associations have made their presentations. Different companies have different technology architectures. The reality is, we also have to keep data privacy and security, and all those things in mind. There is a complex infrastructure."

RBI had first raised the issue of data localization during the 5 April monetary policy. “In recent times, the payment ecosystem in India has expanded considerably with the emergence of new payment systems, players and platforms," it had said, adding that ensuring the safety and security of payment systems data by adoption of the best global standards and their continuous monitoring and surveillance is “essential to reduce the risks from data breaches".

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 18 August that US technology giants plan to intensify lobbying efforts against data localization requirements, which they say will undermine their growth ambitions in India. US trade groups, representing companies such as Facebook, Amazon, American Express and Microsoft, have opposed the push to store data locally, the report added.

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