Instant payments system PIX goes live in Brazil

No serious incidents were verified but banks faced some technical glitches; the system will be fully operational on November 16.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Brazil's instant payments system PIX went live yesterday (3) with a limited pool of users ahead of the full launch later this month.

Some 1.570 transactions recorded during the first day of operation, between 9am and 5pm. In a virtual press conference, the head of the Central Bank's competition and financial market structure department, Ângelo Duarte, reported that all PIX systems operated smoothly throughout the day, though unforeseen events are expected in the testing phase.

The Central Bank did not verify any serious incidents yesterday, however Duarte said that some financial institutions faced some technical problems earlier in the day, though all issues were solved by the companies themselves.

PIX is aimed to provide an easier, cheaper and more inclusive alternative to the current transaction models, such as same-day and next-day transfers on weekdays as well as cheques. In order to transact through the system, users need to register "keys" with their institution of choice.

Keys can be the user's social security number, mobile phone number, or an e-mail address. The same key cannot be used in different financial institutions, which prompted banks and fintechs to try and attract consumers to register keys with them, with rewards such as credit card points and money prizes.

According to the Central Bank, more than 60 million PIX keys had been registered by consumers until yesterday. The initial testing phase is being carried out with a tiny percentage of 1-5% of PIX users, who can already send instant payments through the system, while all registered users can receive funds. The users participating in the initial phase of the system were chosen by the financial institutions.

Today (4) PIX will be up and running between from 9am and 10pm. The system will resume operations at 9am on Thursday (5) and close at 10pm on Friday (6). Capacity testing will be carried out that night.

Banks will be able to gradually expand the pool of users that is able to send funds through PIX from Monday (9). The instant payments service is expected to be fully operational and working round the clock from November 16.

When unveiling PIX in February, the president at the Brazilian Central Bank, Roberto Campos Neto, said the instant payments system was "one of the most important initiatives of the year" for the institution and forms part of a series of upcoming innovations this year through to 2021.

The Central Bank's competitiveness agenda includes the implementation of open banking, also planned for next year. Yesterday (3), the institution published new procedures relating to the project and said that manuals will be gradually published around themes such as governance, security and the scope of data and services under the open banking approach.

Larger financial services institutions have until January, 15, 2021 to sign up for the open banking system, while other players can sign up voluntarily before data sharing begins under the model on May 31, 2021.

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