WhatsApp Pay gets green light in Brazil | ZDNet

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The Brazilian Central Bank has given the green light to WhatsApp payments after months of discussions over how to introduce the service without harming local market competition.

The authorization, granted yesterday (30) entails two types of domestic, open payment arrangements based on the deposit and prepaid models intermediated by Visa and Mastercard, in addition to a payment and transactions initiation arrangement for Facebook.

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In a statement, the Central Bank said it believes that the authorizations granted “may open up new perspectives of cost reduction for users of payment services”.

However, the institution noted the authorizations do not include Visa and Mastercard requests for the operation of purchase arrangements linked to the Facebook Pay program, which are still being analyzed.

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The decision follows a series of events that took place last year around the launch of the service in Brazil. In June 2020, Facebook launched WhatsApp Pay under what was planned to be a gradual implementation that would enable users and small businesses to send or receive money in Brazil, up to 20 times a day.

A few days later, the Brazilian Central Bank and the country’s antitrust watchdog Cade ordered the suspension of financial transactions via WhatsApp over concerns around the threats the app could present to the national payments system.

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At the time, the Central Bank was readying the launch of its instant payments system PIX. This was “one of the most important initiatives of the year” for the institution and is part of competitiveness agenda that includes the ongoing roll-out of open banking.

According to research by Kantar on behalf of Mastercard in May 2020 on changes relating to payment habits, 75% of respondents would like to be able to pay in real-time regardless of financial service provider they use, while 53% would like to pay via messaging apps or social media platforms.

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Brazil is among the countries that are considered pioneers in the adoption of technologies in the financial sector, according to another study, released in February by Accenture, which stated that Brazilians are more open to new ways of managing their money and are defined as “tech-savvy risk takers”.

Brazilian mobile banking users check their accounts 23 times on average a month, while the so-called “heavy users”, who carry out more than 80% of transactions digitally, log into their bank accounts about 40 times a month, according to the annual study carried out by Deloitte, published by the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban), published in June 2020.

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Most online purchases in Brazil were made through smartphones since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a separate study by consultancy Ebit/Nielsen in partnership with Brazilian fintech Bexs. Of the 194 million purchases made in 2020, 55,1% were made through smartphones, the study noted.

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