Exclusive: U.S. trade official called India’s Mastercard ban ‘draconian’

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with Mastercard emblem is seen in entrance of displayed inventory graph on this illustration taken, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photograph

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A senior U.S. commerce official privately criticised India’s July resolution to ban Mastercard Inc (NYSE:) from issuing new playing cards, calling it a “draconian” transfer that precipitated “panic”, in line with U.S. authorities emails seen by Reuters.

The paperwork present frustration throughout the U.S. authorities after India’s central financial institution banned new card issuance by American Categorical (NYSE:) and Diners Membership Worldwide in April, then took comparable motion in opposition to Mastercard in July.

The Reserve Financial institution of India accuses the businesses of breaking native data-storage guidelines. The bans don’t have an effect on current clients.

The ban on Mastercard – a high fee community in India alongside Visa (NYSE:) – triggered a flurry of emails between U.S. officers in Washington and India as they mentioned subsequent steps with Mastercard, together with approaching the RBI, the federal government emails present.

“We have began listening to from stakeholders about some fairly draconian measures that the RBI has taken over the previous couple days,” Brendan A. Lynch, the deputy assistant U.S. commerce consultant for South and Central Asia, wrote on July 16, two days after the Mastercard announcement.

“It appears like some others (Amex, Diners) could have been impacted by comparable actions just lately,” wrote Lynch, asking his colleagues in India to get in contact with their central financial institution contacts “to see what is going on on”.

Lynch, spokespeople for the Workplace of the U.S. Commerce Consultant and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi didn’t reply to requests for remark. The U.S. authorities has not publicly commented on the Mastercard ban.

The RBI didn’t instantly reply.

A Mastercard spokesman informed Reuters, “We have had very constructive engagements with the Indian and U.S. governments over the previous few weeks and recognize the assist of each.” This contains discussions with the RBI, and Mastercard has “made good progress” because it seems to resolve the state of affairs rapidly, he mentioned.


Mastercard counts India as a key development market. In 2019 it mentioned it was “bullish on India”, a rustic the place it has made main funding bets and constructed analysis and know-how centres.

The Mastercard ban rattled the corporate and upset India’s monetary sector as Indian associate banks worry successful to their earnings as they battle to swiftly associate with new networks to supply playing cards.

The RBI acted in opposition to Mastercard as a result of it was “discovered to be non-compliant” with the 2018 guidelines regardless of the “lapse of appreciable time and satisfactory alternatives”.

The principles, requiring overseas card networks to retailer Indian funds knowledge domestically for “unfettered supervisory entry”, have been carried out after failed lobbying efforts of U.S. corporations additionally soured commerce ties between New Delhi and Washington.

Mastercard has mentioned it was “upset” with the choice. The corporate has informed Reuters it had submitted a further audit report to the RBI earlier than the ban took impact on July 22.

The U.S. authorities emails present there was hope issues might be sorted out earlier than that.

In a single, Lynch informed colleagues the understanding was that “the RBI has information they want and are hopeful that they may reply appropriately.” However because the ban approached, “if the RBI would not change course, I am positive the panic will resume,” he wrote.

Days later, he wrote that Mastercard was persevering with “to placed on the total courtroom press” in Washington.

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