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Global payments firms in talks with RBI for free flow of data

February 19, 2019 08:30 IST

While most of these payment players continue to run Indian data through the global processes of data analytics and fraud detection, the industry seems divided over whether the regulator would allow this to continue.

Nikhat Hetavkar reports.

Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

The issue of data localisation refuses to die down with payments providers pushing for free flow of data across borders in order to ensure that customers benefit and fraud analytics are not affected.

While these players have set up or are in the process of setting up storage facilities for data in India, data continues to be moved across borders for various processes such as data analytics and fraud detection.

 

A few leading payments providers are actively engaging with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for allowing free flow of data across borders.

However, other payment providers believe that the RBI regulations only ask for "storage" and there is no restriction on the "movement" of data.

Payments providers had earlier opposed the RBI's data localisation norms stating that the movement of data across borders is crucial for providing the utmost convenience and security to customers.

Last-ditch effort
  • Some players are actively engaging with the RBI to allow free flow of data across borders
  • Others believe the RBI rules only ask for "storage" and there’s no restriction on data "movement
  • On April 6, the RBI released data localisation guidelines after which nearly all players submitted a compliance plan

While most of these payment players continue to run Indian data through the global processes of data analytics and fraud detection, the industry seems divided over whether the regulator would allow this to continue.

"We will work with the RBI and ask what it wants. We will work really hard to ensure that in doing so, it doesn't diminish the protection that we can provide to our customers from a security and convenience standpoint," said Ed Mclaughlin, president, operations and technology, Mastercard.

Mastercard said it has complied with the RBI local data storage norms and has data centres in Pune and Delhi.

However, it is still in conversation with the regulator regarding the movement of data across borders as well as the issue of exclusive storage.

"We are talking to the regulator now about the amount of time that data can transit through our networks and processes to do all the things we do," said Mclaughlin, adding that a plan on storing data only in India is being discussed with the RBI.

The representative of a leading international payments provider, on condition of anonymity, said the firm continues to run Indian payments data through its global networks and processes before the data is finally stored in India.

"We need to change some of our global processes in order to ensure that none of the payments data of Indian customers is stored elsewhere while processing globally. This is a work-in-progress," added the person.

Nikhat Hetavkar in Mumbai
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