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For years, WhatsApp has been working towards launching its own payment service, first releasing one in India last year. But before that, the company struck a deal with Brazilian banks, though it had to postpone the launch in the country due to regulatory scrutiny. It looks like whatever issues there were have been worked out, as the company has announced that it's rolling out digital payments to WhatsApp in the Latin American country now, powered by Facebook Pay.
Very excited to start enabling Payments in WhatsApp in Brazil today. This will be a gradual roll-out, but enabling people in 🇧🇷 to pay one another in conversations as easily as sending a text message is going to be so useful! pic.twitter.com/3YQGdz74QK
— David Marcus (@davidmarcus) May 4, 2021
In contrast to the US, many people in other countries rely on WhatsApp for a lot more than just texting — WhatsApp Business is used 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 will be 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 Facebook Pay PIN or fingerprint for authorization. In the beginning, only a handful of debit or credit cards issued by some banks are compatible, but WhatsApp has promised to bring the service to more partners in the future.
The company previously said it would launch the payment service in June 2020, only to have it suspended a week later, pending regulatory scrutiny. It looks like Facebook worked out whatever issues Brazilian authorities saw, and is now ready to launch the service for real.
Payments are starting to roll out to users in Brazil today, and WhatsApp says it looks "forward to bringing it to everyone as we go forward." India, for example, is already on board.
Rolling out again
WhatsApp's payment system was suspended in Brazil just over a week after its launch last year, pending regulatory scrutiny. It looks like Facebook and the authorities came to an agreement, as WhatsApp has announced that payments are now rolling out in Brazil.