Mastercard has complained to the US government about the behaviour of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, claiming that he is using nationalism to push the country's domestic payments network, hurting foreign rivals, according to Reuters.
Citing a Mastercard document sent in June to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Reuters says that Mastercard is growing frustrated with Modi's support of the domestic RuPay payments network, to the detriment of Mastercard and Visa.
The note, sent by Mastercard VP, global public policy, Sahra English, says that the prime minister "associated the use of RuPay cards with nationalism, claiming it serves as ‘kind of national service’."
Said the note: "Increasing rhetoric from the prime minister and government mandates on promotion and preference for RuPay...continues to create market access issues for U.S. payments technology companies," adding "the Indian government’s preferential treatment of RuPay coupled with fallacies on pricing must be discontinued".
This is not the only issue that Mastercard and other foreign payments firms have had with India in recent months. Last month Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, PayPal and Amazon all struggled to meet the deadline to comply with new rules that require information about transactions in India to be stored in the country.
Developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), RuPay has grown rapidly in recent years, partly as a result of a government decision to make sure that all Indians that open a bank account for the first time are offered a RuPay card, rather than one from Visa or Mastercard.
More than half of the country's one billion debit and credit cards now go through the NPCI's system, to the frustration of American firms eager to compete in a massive and fast growing electronic payments market.
In its note, Mastercard claims that the NPCI acts both as "a quasi-regulator and a competing payment network", and this has been "compounded by the government’s open preference for RuPay with misleading statements and inaccurate information on pricing, despite Mastercard being priced lower than RuPay".
In response to Reuters questions on the note, Mastercard says it "fully supports" the Indian government initiatives and is "deeply invested" in the country.