South Africa's Nedbank, in collaboration with Mastercard and fintech startup Ukheshe, has launched Money Message, a payment platform that lets small businesses receive in-chat payments from their customers via WhatsApp. Money Message is a South African first and it will allow businesses to send an invoice requesting payment from any customer seamlessly through WhatsApp. In turn, customers can then make the payment directly from the platform.

Anyone with a valid South African identity document and a South African bank account can access Money Message. Businesses will need to first register for the service.

"The need for a diverse range of contactless payment methods is more important today than we could have possibly imagined, as we seek to rebuild the economy by giving businesses the ability to transact safely and securely. In order to support entrepreneurship and sustainable business growth across all markets, we need to deliver low-cost, accessible and flexible solutions that leverage widely accessible technologies. Money Message looks to overcome a variety of cost, security and technical barriers by enabling micro merchants and their customers to transact with each other easily on an existing platform, which is WhatsApp," said Chipo Mushwana, Executive: Emerging Payments at Nedbank.

📷 Source: Nedbank

Payments using WhatsApp

The WhatsApp payments feature in South Africa is not a first by the Facebook-owned platform.

In June 2020, WhatsApp introduced a feature that allowed users to make payments or send money to individuals and businesses. This was announced first for availability in Brasil on 15 June 2020, and it was expected that the functionality would be extended to more countries.

WhatsApp's payments feature was initially tested in India in 2018.

Unfortunately, the WhatsApp payments feature didn't last long in the South American country as Brasil's central bank suspended the feature citing competition rules and whether or not it meets the country's requirements. The suspension was issued by instructing VISA and Mastercard not to process payments from the platform.

How WhatsApp payments works in South Africa

A beta version of Money Message has been available to a small selection of businesses for just over a month and will gradually reach the broader market during the rest of 2021.

How the WhatsApp payments feature will work in South Africa is that the business owner will send a request-to-pay message to the customer and for first-time users, a notification is sent via SMS prompting them to register for the service. The customer simply puts in their name, surname and registers their card details to make the payment securely.

To register, simply save Money Message's number, +27 (0)87 240 6272, as a contact on your phone and start a chat in WhatsApp by sending the word 'Hi'.

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