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Brazil Central Bank suspends WhatsApp mobile payments for review less than two weeks after release

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Brazil Central Bank suspends WhatsApp mobile payments for review less than two weeks after release

  • Brazil has suspended WhatsApp’s mobile payment feature
  • It will review if the feature meets the country’s regulatory standards
  • The decision comes less than two weeks after the feature’s release
  • WhatsApp has yet to expand mobile payments elsewhere 

Less than two weeks into a test on WhatsApp that allowed in-app payments via Facebook Pay, Brazil’s Central Bank has pumped the brakes.

According to a report from Bloomberg, authorities paused WhatsApp’s payment feature in an effort to ‘preserve an adequate competitive environment, that ensures the functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap.’

The new WhatsApp feature lets users send money and buy goods via Facebook pay. The feature (pictured) was currently only being made available in Brazil

The new WhatsApp feature lets users send money and buy goods via Facebook pay. The feature (pictured) was currently only being made available in Brazil

The Central Bank reportedly asked Visa and Mastercard, which power the payment feature, to stop processing transactions or face fines.

The suspension of the feature comes after two years of tests and affects WhatsApp’s biggest market outside of India. 

‘Our goal is to provide digital payments to all WhatsApp users in Brazil using an open model and we will continue to work with local partners and the Central Bank to make this possible,’ a WhatsApp spokesperson told Bloomberg.   

While suspended, Brazil’s central banks will reportedly assess whether or not the payment method meets the country’s regulations.

WhatsApp’s feature allows users to send money in the app using Facebook Pay and also allows them to make purchases from merchants directly in the app. 

WhatsApp said sending money is free for regular users while businesses who use the app for commerce will pay a processing fee which the company says will be comparable to what they pay to use credit cards. 

The feature is designed to work in tandem with WhatsApp’s catalogs which were rolled out in November last year. The catalogs act as digital storefronts in which users can browse products.  

WhatsApp partnered with debit or credit cards from Banco do Brasil, Nubank and Sicredi, which are both a part of the Visa and Mastercard networks.

It said that it will also work with Cielo, which is a payment processor in Brazil and will open the feature to more organizations in the future.

The company, which is owned by Facebook, says that it eventually wants users to be able to use any card they’ve linked to Facebook across its family of apps – that would include WhatsApp and Instagram, as well.

WhatsApp hasn’t said when it will roll out the feature in the US and the UK.

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