WhatsApp has relaunched its payments service in Brazil nearly a year after its suspension amid concerns over potential threats to the national financial services system.
The relaunch announced yesterday (4) follows the authorization from Brazil's Central Bank, received by WhatsApp owner Facebook in late March after months of testing and evaluations relating to aspects such as privacy and market competition. WhatsApp Pay is available for individual users and the company plans to offer the service to companies in due course.
Through the service, which is already live in India, Brazilian users will be able to send each other money on the Visa and Mastercard networks, with payments processed by Cielo. After resuming the implementation, it is expected Facebook will roll out the service under a phased approach and the WhatsApp base of over 120 million users in Brazil should be entirely covered by the second half of 2021.
Initially, the service will be made available to clients with debit or prepaid cards issued by some of the largest banks in Brazil, such as Bradesco, Itaú and Banco do Brasil, as well as challengers such as Nubank and Banco Inter, and online marketplace Mercado Livre, as part of its plan to broaden its presence in the financial services space. Users will be able to send up to 1000 reais ($185) daily and receive up to 20 transactions per day, with a monthly limit of 5000 reais ($929).
The launch of WhatsApp Pay follows the introduction of PIX, the instant payments system rolled out by Brazil's Central Bank in November 2020, and helps card issuers weather the increasing competition and develop their offerings in an instant payments platform. WhatsApp is the mobile app Brazilians use most often and for longer periods of time, according to a survey published in December 2020.
The introduction of the service in Brazil comes amid concerns over privacy in relation to the messaging app's forthcoming privacy update, set to take effect from May 15. Last month, consumer protection body Idec notified several organizations with unanswered questions over privacy rights and data protection.