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India: Mastercard protests payments “nationalism”

 |  November 4, 2018

Mastercard reportedly has lodged a protest with the US government over the use of nationalism by the government in India to promote a domestic payments network there.

According to a Reuters exclusive, Mastercard told the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on June 21 that the prime minister “associated the use of RuPay cards with nationalism, claiming it serves as ‘kind of national service.’”

RuPay, among whose supporters is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has, according to the article, “broken the dominance of US payment giants such as Mastercard and Visa. More than half of India’s one billion debit and credit cards now go through the RuPay payment system, and that means companies such as Mastercard face an uphill task to expand rapidly in one of the world’s biggest payments growth markets.” Modi has said that using RuPay is akin to offering a service to the nation, given the fees associated with the use stay in India.

According to the protest from Mastercard, Modi’s views are “commendable,” but also represent “a series of protectionist measures” that harm global companies. The note also says that “increasing rhetoric from the prime minister and government mandates on promotion and preference for RuPay … continues to create market access issues for US payments technology companies,” according to Reuters.

The news of the Mastercard protest comes amid recent reporting that WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging app that is trying to make inroads into India’s digital payments market, has created a system to store payment data locally in that country. India has required companies to store data locally on its consumers.

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