Storing copies of foreign payment firms data a likely solution

• Foreign payment firms could keep copies of customer data in India while retaining offshore storage operations, the government said, as a way to resolve a row with MasterCard, Visa and American Express over the localization of such information.

• A decision of RBI in April that all payment data should, within six months, be stored only in the country for ‘unfettered supervisory access’ has led to furious lobbying by global firms that worry it would cost them millions of dollars.

• India’s Economic Affairs Secretary SC Garg said that keeping data copies in the country had emerged as a possible solution during a meeting with officials from the Reserve Bank of India and executives from the payment firms.

• He said that RBI had to take a final decision on the matter but keeping mirror images of the data in India would mean all the customer information would be available to local authorities.

• The RBI’s directive comes as more people in India are switching to plastic. In March, Indians clocked up transactions worth $52 billion using their 900 million credit and debit cards, nearly double the amount recorded in November 2016, data from the RBI showed. But rising fraud is a concern too. The RBI in April said the payment ecosystem in India had expanded considerably, making it necessary to ensure the safety and security of data.