Facebook Gains Approval for WhatsApp Pay in Brazil, Nine Months After Initial Suspension

Facebook’s eCommerce push has been given a boost with Brazilian regulators finally approving the company’s plans for facilitating payments within WhatsApp.

As reported by Reuters:

“Brazil’s central bank on Tuesday cleared the way for Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service to let its users send each other funds using the Visa and Mastercard card networks, months after vetoing WhatsApp’s initial attempt.”

Indeed, Facebook initially announced the launch of WhatsApp payments in Brazil last June, the first step towards making the nation’s most popular messaging app into an eCommerce tool.

But a week later, the launch was shut down, with Brazilian regulators citing concerns about the impact on the local mobile payments space, and the capacity to “preserve an adequate competitive environment”. Nine months later, Brazilian regulators have finally approved Facebook’s plan, which could pave the way for the next big shift in WhatsApp use, and converting the app into an all-in-one connective powerhouse.

Building such capacity has become a key focus for Facebook, with the added ability to shop and make payments in the app extending its use case, and making it a more essential tool in some regions. Facebook’s also working to build the same capacity in India, where it’s hoping to make WhatsApp a critical tool in everyday life, and with payments now also available in Brazil, where WhatsApp has more than 120 million users, that’s another key step in building on the ubiquity of the app.

For many Brazilians, WhatsApp is already crucial. As per Statista, a survey conducted in January found that among Brazilian mobile internet users who had WhatsApp installed on their phones, 86% of respondents indicated that they use the app every day.

With that level of usage, you can see why Facebook is so keen to expand the app’s use case, and facilitating funds transfers and payments will enable WhatsApp to lean further into the eCommerce shift, fueled by the pandemic, in order to build on that reliance and market presence.

Eventually, Facebook will be looking to open up more business options within WhatsApp, and connect more businesses into these markets. Payments is a big part of this, and today’s approval is a significant step in the next development of these tools.  

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