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WhatsApp’s new payment feature has been suspended by Brazilian authorities

Just a week ago, WhatsApp had introduced a new feature in Brazil which will allow users to send money as easy as sending a picture. Unfortunately, the payment feature has been suspended by Brazil’s Central Bank.

It was reported that the decision by the monetary authority aims to “preserve an adequate competitive environment, that ensures the functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap.” They added that the suspension will allow them to evaluate any possible risk to the country’s payment system and to determine if it meets the necessary rules.

It shared concerns that payment services that proceed without approval may cause irreparable damage to the system especially when it comes to competition, efficiency and privacy. The Central bank has also requested Mastercard and Visa to stop offering payment and transfer facilities to WhatsApp.

According to Bloomberg, Brazil is WhatsApp’s second-biggest market with more than 120 million users. The suspension came as a surprise as it was reported that both WhatsApp and the Central Bank were in regular contact and have conducted tests prior to the launch of the payment feature.

This is seen as a major set back for WhatsApp which has also tried to launch its payment feature in India a few years ago. Unfortunately, they have struggled to get the necessary regulatory approvals needed for massive rollout. WhatsApp has also tested its payment service in Mexico.

Commenting on Brazil’s proposed instant-payment system, a WhatsApp spokesperson has said that they are supportive of the Central Bank’s PIX project on digital payments and they are committed to work with them to integrate their systems when PIX becomes available. The Facebook-owned instant messaging platform says its goal is to provide digital payments to all WhatsApp users in Brazil using an open model and they will continue to work with local partners and the Central bank to make this possible.

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Alexander Wong