Mastercard starts deleting Indian transactions data stored overseas

MasterCard credit cards are seen in this illustrative photograph | Photo: Reuters
Global payment services provider Mastercard on Tuesday said it has already started deleting data related to Indian transactions stored overseas and the process is likely to be completed by the end of this year.

The company also said it is in compliance with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) regulations on data localisation as all domestic data from October last year has already been stored in the country.

“We have already started storing all domestic data on soil and have started deleting the data overseas,” said Vikas Varma, senior vice-president (account management, South Asia) at Mastercard. “RBI has not given any deadline yet. On an ongoing basis, we have already started it,” he added.

The central bank, in April last year, had set a deadline of six months ending October 2018 by which it directed all global payment companies to store transaction data of Indian customers in the country. 

Mastercard and its larger rival Visa were among firms which had requested for an extension after missing the deadline. Global fintech firms have said that storing data domestically would impair their ability to detect fraud and incidences of money laundering.

“The regulator wants us to do data residency and data localisation. Also, ‘no mirror’ (of the data) is allowed under RBI regulations. So, we have gone a step ahead and are setting up a data processing centre in India,” Varma said. “This will allow us to process India data in the country. So, the data will never go out,” he added.

The greenfield data processing centre is being set up in Pune at an investment of around $350 million out of its planned investment of around $1 billion in the next five years, the Mastercard official said.

According to the company, once the centre becomes operational in the next 12-18 months, there will be no connection between India data and the US entity with regard to any domestic transaction. “Currently, the processing capability of Mastercard is in the US centre. India will be the second such centre,” Varma said.

India is one of the biggest markets for Mastercard globally but the US-based firm is increasingly facing competition from other payment services providers and new-age fintech firms.

“Competition has definitely increased. But electronic transactions is only 10 per cent of a consumer spend as of now against 3-4 per cent during the pre-demonetisation period,” the official said. Though competition has brought in pricing pressure for all industry players, the company said it was able to overcome them through scale.  

“We are also morphing from a card-based company to a universal payments provider. We are now a technology company operating in payments,” Varma said. The company is also leveraging its Indian talent base to provide many additional services to its clients in the country and abroad.