Google Pay sharing payments data with group firms, third parties: Paytm

Vijay Shekhar Sharma-owned fintech major Paytm has alleged that payments platform Google Pay is violating guidelines by sharing data with its group companies and third parties, and also using it for advertising purposes.

Google Pay’s privacy policy states it collects, stores, uses, and discloses users’ personal data for advertising and promotional purposes, Paytm claims in its letter to National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

“We would like to highlight a very important fact that Google Pay, which is an un-regulated payments platform, has the scope of using their customers’ data for their monetary gains with complete disregard of the user’s need for privacy. The critical payments data collected by them is being processed and stored outside of India, which can have severe security implications in case of a data breach as their policy states that this data is also being disclosed with advertisers and third-parties,” reads the company’s letter.

One97 Communications, the company that owns Paytm, said on several occasions it stored as well as processes user data onshore. “India is in the process of drafting its personal data protection bill. Against this backdrop, it is of utmost concern that global companies are sharing Indian users’ personal data among group companies,” the company wrote in the email.

In a statement, Google refuted the charges, saying its payments users have a direct relationship with the firm. According to 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... Google does not use any individual UPI transactions data for any monetisation purpose,” its spokesperson said.

It added that 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. 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," it said.

This is not the first time Paytm has called out an international firm over data and payments issues. The company had earlier called social media giant Facebook ‘the most evil company in the world’ and WhatsApp Pay a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) killer.

Sharma in February launched an offensive against Facebook, which owns WhatsApp. “I completely believe that Facebook is the most evil company in the world. Earlier, they tried to dupe the country with what they called was free internet. Now, they are flouting all guidelines and rules and bringing out an app that does not need three-step authentication to make online and mobile payments,” he had told Business Standard then. 

The Paytm founder was one of the few Indian entrepreneurs who had opposed Free Basics, Facebook’s internet-for-all plan for India. On being branded as protectionist from certain quarters in the payments sector, Sharma had clarified all he wanted was equal treatment for all companies.

“It is not at all about being protectionist. Everyone should be allowed to play the field. But no one should arm twist and tweak rules to suit their designs. I have always maintained that WhatsApp is a major security risk to India. But just like any other player, they are and should be allowed to operate in the country. However, they need to follow the rules,” Sharma had said.

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