Amex finally complies with RBI regulations to store data in India


Back in April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barred the American Express Banking Corp India from on-boarding new domestic customers onto their card networks for violating local data storage norms.

The initial regulation was informed in April 2018, when RBI had asked payment system providers to ensure that within a period of six months the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them is stored in a system within India.

However, many international banks, including AmEx did not amend to that rule.

Now after almost four months from barring the institution, AmEx has finally said it will comply with the data localization norms.

“We are working very closely with the RBI. We are always very mindful that if there is a law of the land, we would be fully compliant,” said, Manoj Adlakha, SVP and CEO, American Express Banking Corp India told BusinessLine that the bank continues to believe India is a strategic market for the company.

Meanwhile, the company is working on expanding its presence in the country with higher customer engagements and more merchant partnerships.

“Right now, the key focus is in ensuring customers spend more than what a typical customer spends in the industry. We are focusing on increasing the spending per customer and make sure they stay engaged with us,” he said.

He explained it is a myth that American Express cards attract only High Networth Individuals and said it also appeals to millennials. “In 2019, about 40 to 45 percent of our card acquisition were millennials. We have a suite of products focused on different target segments,” he said.

The company has also focused heavily on adding new merchants, especially small merchants and everyday spend categories onto its networks. There are close to 15 lakh merchant partners in India. The local merchant coverage has grown 10 times in the last five years, with 5.5 lakh new merchants added in the last two years.

Commenting on trends in spends post the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Adlakha said it’s still very early. He, however, expects a very quick revival of spends — as was seen in the three months of December 2020 and January and February 2021 — if there is no third wave. The bank has not seen any stress in terms of repayments.

“Industries, where credit card spends have gone up significantly, are groceries, insurance premium, utility bills, health and hygiene, savings, even OTT and entertainment,” he said, adding that within the online category spends there has been an uptake in education, online classes, health and wellness, online retail and dining or ordering in food.