After less than two weeks from its launch in Brazil, WhatsApp’s digital payments offering was suspended by the Central Bank of the country. The bank authority requested Mastercard and Visa to stop payment and money transfer activities through the app, adding that the companies could face fines if they don’t comply.
The Central Bank of Brazil press release:
„Within the scope of its responsibilities as Regulator and Supervisor of payment schemes in Brazil, the Central Bank of Brazil (BCB) has ordered Visa and Mastercard to suspend the initiation of activities to, or to immediately cease making use of the WhatsApp application for initiating payments and transfers within the scope of the arrangements implemented by these supervised entities.
The BCB’s motivation for the decision is the maintenance of an adequate competitive environment, which ensures the operation of a payment system that is interoperable, fast, safe, transparent, open and inexpensive.
The measure will allow the BCB to assess any risks to the proper functioning of the Brazilian Payment System (SPB) and to verify compliance with the principles and rules set out in Law 12,865/2013. The occasional initiation or continuity of operations without the prior analysis of the Regulator might cause irretrievable damage to the SPB, particularly with regard to competition, efficiency and data privacy issues.
Failure to comply with the BCB’s instruction will subject interested parties to the payment of a punitive fine and to the investigation of liabilities in a sanctioning administrative proceeding.”
The decision is an impediment for Facebook, which struggled to introduce WhatsApp’s payments system in Brazil in June 2020 after testing it over the past two years in India and Mexico. Central Bank’s decision surprised the company, as the two sides were in regular contact in the run-up to the payments launch.
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