India’s finance ministry has proposed relaxing a directive from the country’s central bank to compel global payment firms to store customer data locally, a document seen by Reuters shows, following weeks of intense lobbying by US companies and trade bodies.
The proposal comes as a relief for companies including MasterCard, Visa and American Express that fear India’s data onshoring move could cost them millions of dollars and set a precedent for other major governments to implement similar rules at a time when there is heightened scrutiny on how companies globally handle their customers’ data.
Foreign payment companies were caught off guard in April by the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) one-page directive that said all payments data should within six months be stored only in the country for “unfettered supervisory access”.
India’s finance ministry, in a meeting held in June with RBI officials and executives from payment companies, said that a possible solution could be that companies store a copy of the data in India as well as storing it elsewhere.
The ministry has also proposed clarifying the kind of data that needed to be stored and the time given to implement the directive, according to a copy of the minutes of the meeting reviewed by Reuters.
The companies were most concerned about the directive to store the data only in India with restrictions on cross-border storage or movement.