WhatsApp has officially said that it might share payment information of users with its parent company Facebook. This shocking announcement by WhatsApp comes at a perilous time when Facebook is already facing a heavy backlash from users regarding their security and protection of private data. WhatsApp was last seen testing payment services using UPI (Unified Payment Interface) in February in India, the payment service is actually planned to launch for the users later this year and is currently out as beta for a limited set of users.
It further goes on to say: “To provide Payments to you, we share information with third-party services including PSPs, such as your mobile phone number, registration information, device identifiers, VPAs (virtual payments addresses), the sender’s UPI PIN, and payment amount.”
It’s worth noting that WhatsApp remains as one of the most widely used messaging platforms in India and Facebook in India has about 250 million users out of which approximately 5 lakh users suffered from the data breach that happened during the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. Apparently, Facebook CEO is expected to testify before the US Congress about the allegations that London-based data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed data on Facebook users in the run-up to the US elections.
Indian officials also raised eyes about the issue and spoke on the matter. As per Livemint’s article on the same issue, the circular by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) outlines that payment platforms which use UPI need to get exclusive permission from the NPCI before they share customer data with anyone. The circular quotes “PSP bank shall ensure that third-party app provider shall require an exclusive permission from NPCI & PSP bank for sharing individual UPI transaction data with any other third party including its own parent, subsidiaries and subsidiaries of parents other than entities such as Indian government/Indian intelligence/Indian law enforcement agencies/Indian regulatory bodies,”
However, WhatsApp’s rivals in the payment sector like PhonePe, Paytm also have policies under their belt which outline that they can share payment data too. This information makes it somewhat easier for WhatsApp since the said step won’t make WhatsApp an exception. However, what indeed is disturbing is the fact that this news has surfaced around the time when Facebook is surrounded by doubts and scepticism from all sides questioning its ability to handle private user data.