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Companies have sought access to UPI data, says RBI Deputy Governor Rabi Sankar

Access to UPI data could allow payments companies to construct targeted financial products. However, legislation on data privacy is crucial, the central banker said.

September 12, 2022 / 08:29 PM IST

Companies have asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) if they can get access to Unified Payments Interface (UPI) data, Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar said in the national capital Delhi on September 12.

"Recently, I was in a conference where one of the things many large corporates discussed with me is how can they access UPI data because that will give information which can be used to structure products that can be specifically targeted at specific cohorts of the population," Rabi Sankar said at a seminar at the National Council of Applied Economic Research.

"So being data rich is obviously a boon… At the same time, being data rich also increases the responsibility on the government, the regulators, and virtually all the participants," the deputy governor added.

According to Rabi Sankar, the potential to monetise data meant it was key to businesses. However, privacy is important too. As such, laws and regulations need to be in place to ensure not only is customer data safe and privacy protected, but any monetisation of customer data is done in a "responsible manner".

UPI has emerged as a major player in the digital payments space in recent years, with transactions worth Rs 10.73 lakh crore being done through it in August. In volume terms, 657 crore transactions were performed last month, as per National Payments Corporation of India data.

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"Something like that (the data protection bill) needs to be in place for large-scale usage of data," Rabi Sankar said. "We will have to check then what the conditions of data sharing are."

The central government, on August 3, withdrew the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, which had attracted criticism from privacy experts for favouring the government rather than protecting privacy. First drafted by the BN Srikrishna-led expert committee, the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2019 and later referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India would introduce a new data privacy bill "sooner than later".

In his remarks today, Rabi Sankar also said the RBI was looking to increase the penetration of digital payments through the 'geo-tagging' of transactions.

"One of the things we are trying to do is basically geo-tagging of digital transactions, which will tell us the geographic spread across districts, cities, towns. That will help us focus our efforts in areas where digital payments have not reached," the deputy governor said.
Siddharth Upasani is a Special Correspondent at Moneycontrol. He has been covering the Indian economy, economic data, and monetary and fiscal policies for nine years. He tweets at @SiddharthUbiWan. Contact: siddharth.upasani@nw18.com
first published: Sep 12, 2022 08:29 pm
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