WhatsApp payments get the green light from Brazil

31 Mar 2021

Image: © tashatuvango/Stock.adobe.com

Brazil’s central bank has approved the roll-out of WhatsApp payments, but only for peer-to-peer transactions that don’t involve merchants.

Brazil’s central bank has confirmed that WhatsApp payments will become available for users in the country, after delaying the roll-out of the service last year due to competition concerns.

The service, which relies on Facebook Pay, allows users to link their Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card to their WhatsApp account. Last year, TechCrunch reported that initial partners in Brazil would include Banco do Brasil, Nubank and Sicredi.

WhatsApp’s payments feature has been in development for a number of years. In 2017, the messaging platform was testing payments in India and it finally rolled out the service there in late 2020.

But when the company set its sights on Brazil last year, the country’s central bank said it could damage the existing payments system in the country in terms of competition and affecting data privacy, according to Reuters. The bank also claimed WhatsApp had failed to obtain the necessary licences.

Since then, Brazil’s central bank has rolled out its own local instant payments service, Pix. Unlike Pix, Reuters reports that WhatsApp will only be allowed to provide peer-to-peer payments in Brazil that don’t involve merchants. The report adds that Facebook is still seeking approval to operate with merchants and that the exact date of the service’s roll-out has not been confirmed.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said the company is “making the final preparations to have payments on WhatsApp available in Brazil as soon as possible”. The messaging app has more than 120m users in the region.

While the company hasn’t revealed plans to launch the payments feature in other countries yet, WhatsApp continues to roll out updates internationally.

Earlier this month, it announced that users could now make calls from their desktop app. It is also rolling out a privacy update, initially planned for February but postponed until May, which sparked global concern regarding data sharing with Facebook.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021