On 15 June 2020 WhatsApp introduced a feature that allowed users to send and receive money. Initially officially launched in Brazil, there were plans that the feature by the Facebook-owned platform would be rolled to other countries over time. However, those plans might have to be put on hold as the Central Bank of Brazil has suspended WhatsApp payments in the South American country.

Given how the WhatsApp payments feature was architectured to use Facebook Pay, all it took to enforce the suspension was a request by Brazilโ€™s Central Bank to Mastercard and Visa to stop processing payments and money transfers via the instant messaging app. The request was accompanied by a threat that should the two global payments technology companies fail to honor the request, they would be fined for non-compliance.

โ€œOur 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. In addition, we support the Central Bankโ€™s PIX project on digital payments and together with our partners are committed to work with the Central Bank to integrate our systems when PIX becomes available,โ€ said a WhatsApp spokesperson.

Subscribe ato our newsletter
Insights and analysis into how technology impacts Africa. We promise to leave you smarter and asking the right questions every time after you read it. Sent out every Monday to Friday.

It was expected that WhatsApp's payments functionality would be extended to more countries after the official Brazil launch. However, this could be in question as other regulators especially in developing countries could be watching closely what's happening in Brazil. The feature was initially tested in India during 2018.

The Central Bank of Brazil said that its suspension of the WhatsApp payments feature aims to โ€œpreserve an adequate competitive environment, that ensures the functioning of a payment system thatโ€™s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap."

Share this via: