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On Paytm vs Whatsapp, and governance issues at NPCI

(Updates: added clarifications from PhonePe co-founder Sameer Nigam, and Citrus Pay co-founder Jitendra Gupta) Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma (VSS) made some fairly strong accusations yesterday in an interview with CNBC-TV18. Moving beyond the "Facebook is the most evil company in the world" rhetoric, there are substantial policy issues raised here, especially about governance at NPCI, which is a bank-owned non-profit company, which owns and operates critical payments infrastructure like UPI and IMPS, and also owns and operates the BHIM application, in competition with other UPI apps. .@Paytm CEO accuses @WhatsApp Pay of killing open UPI. @ShereenBhan speaks to @vijayshekhar #PaymentWars #Exclusive https://t.co/75WKO6n7kZ — CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) February 15, 2018 VSS says that "Whatsapp is killing India's "beautiful, open UPI system", and that it has gotten preferential access to UPI. He says that "it does not allow transactions to non-Whatsapp UPI handles, UPI handles created via other apps, does not include passwords and logins, and QR code scanning. Everyone else has 3 factors of authentication: login, password and then UPI pin. Whatsapp doesn't have login and password." "The rulebook which is written out there gets interpreted and modified for other players in a different way than us. I'll give you an example: Yesterday I had a conversation with a gentleman at NPCI, and I asked how they could let the login and password go away. He said that there was a circular about it, and the circular says that if banks can undertake (underwrite) the liability, you can take away the…

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Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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