The Central Bank of Brazil has suspended Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger payment feature in the country.
According to bank authorities, the reason for the suspension was to preserve an adequate competitive environment, that ensures the functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap. Bank authorities requested that Mastercard and Visa stop payment and money transfer activities through the app.
”In addition, we support the Central Bank’s PIX project on digital payments and together with our partners are committed to work with the Central Bank to integrate our systems when PIX becomes available,” the spokesperson said, referring to Brazil’s proposed instant-payment system.
This decision is a setback for Facebook, which introduced WhatsApp’s payments system in Brazil earlier this month after testing it over the past two years in a handful of markets, including India and Mexico. Payments are a key element of WhatsApp’s long-term plan to offer commerce within the app. More than 5 million merchants around the world use a business version of the messenger app, and in countries like India and Brazil, WhatsApp serves as the main or only online presence for many mom-and-pop retailers.
The suspension will Brazil’s central bank evaluate any possible risk to the country’s system of payments and to determine whether the payments system meets the necessary rules. Starting the service without the regulator’s green light could generate “irreparable damage to the system, especially what concerns competition, efficiency and data privacy,” the banks said, adding that Mastercard and Visa could face fines if they don’t comply.