WhatsApp will soon be able to relaunch its payment service in Brazil. According to Reuters, the country’s central bank has approved peer-to-peer payments for the Facebook—owned messaging service, allowing users to send money to each other with cards issued by Visa and Mastercard. WhatsApp originally rolled out the payments feature in its second largest market back in June 2020, but Brazil’s central bank quickly ordered the service to suspend it so it can look into whether it meets all the rules on “competition, efficiency and data privacy.” The banking authority also said that the service failed to obtain the necessary licenses.
WhatsApp apparently tried to avoid being categorized as a financial services company by relying on Visa’s and Mastercard’s existing bank licenses. That didn’t work, though: The central bank told both payment processors to stop money transfer activities through WhatsApp if they don’t want to face fines. WhatsApp had to seek regulatory approval to process payments, and Visa and Mastercard had to secure new permits to be able to operate with the messaging service.
The payment feature doesn’t have a rollout date yet, but a spokesperson said it’s “making the final preparations to have payments on WhatsApp available in Brazil as soon as possible.” Even after it becomes available, though, users won’t be able to make purchases with it. WhatsApp originally launched the feature so local merchants can easily accept digital payments, since local businesses in Brazil and India have been using it as their primary online presence. That won’t be possible when the feature first becomes available, but Reuters says Facebook is seeking approval for merchant payments.