For years, WhatsApp has been working towards launching its own payment service. While we always thought India would be the first country to see a full-blown rollout of the feature, it looks like Facebook struck a deal with Brazilian partners before. The company has announced that its bringing digital payments to WhatsApp in the Latin American country, powered by Facebook Pay.
In contrast to the US, many people in other countries rely on WhatsApp for a lot more than just texting — WhatsApp Business is heavily utilized by small store owners who use features like Catalogs to present their products. As such, it only makes sense to add payments into the mix as well — customers can pay for products right through WhatsApp going forward. While user-to-user transactions between friends and family are free of charge, businesses will have to pay a small fee for receiving money, similar to how regular card terminals work in stores.
To make payments as safe as possible, WhatsApp requires a special six-digit PIN or fingerprint for authorization. In the beginning, only debit or credit cards from Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and Mastercard networks are compatible, and the company is also working with Cielo. WhatsApp promises to bring the service to more partners in the future.
The feature is starting to roll out to users in Brazil today, and WhatsApp says it looks "forward to bringing it to everyone as we go forward" — I wouldn't be surprised if the service launches in India next.
WhatsApp's payment system has been suspended in Brazil just over a week after its launch, pending regulatory scrutiny.