Brazil has axed WhatsApp’s new payments system over concerns about its impact on the country’s financial ecosystem.
Launched initially in Brazil with a view to expanding into other territories, the service allowed users to transfer funds between one another via WhatsApp, but was live for less than two weeks.
According to Brazil’s central bank, the WhatsApp feature poses a threat to the country’s existing payments system in the context of competition, efficiency and data privacy – and should be subject to a review by the nation’s monetary watchdog.
Payments infrastructure firms Visa and Mastercard have been ordered to halt all transactions made via WhatsApp, or else face fines and sanctions.
The new WhatsApp payment system was designed to simplify the process of transferring funds between individuals, while also providing local businesses with a foothold in the digital economy.
The service was to be free for all personal users, much like WhatsApp’s messaging service, but businesses would be charged processing fees similar to those they might pay when accepting credit card transactions.
However, WhatsApp’s service was launched without the permission of Brazil’s central bank, which has since set out regulation that requires new market participants to seek approval before entering the payments ecosystem.
A statement issued by WhatsApp indicates the firm will continue to work with the Brazilian bank to allay its concerns and revive the project.
The company also suggested it could be open to an approach that involves a wider range of participants, in a bid to address concerns about market concentration.