WhatsApp introduces payments service

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WhatsApp users, starting with those in Brazil will now be able to send and receive money by way of its messaging app, using Facebook Pay. The project, which had been under development for a while, was launched in Brazil in what can best be described as a trial phase. This was announced in a statement made available by WhatsApp owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Inc.

Currently, the service is free for consumers to use, which means, no commission payment is involved. However, businesses will pay processing fees to receive payments.

The messaging service said the payments service will work by way of a six-digit PIN or fingerprint to complete transactions. According to WhatsApp, users can make use of it by linking up WhatsApp account to a credit or debit card, with initial local partners including Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi. Cielo, a payments processor, is also working with WhatsApp to complete transactions.

“We have built an open model to welcome more partners in the future,” it noted.

“Payments on WhatsApp are beginning to roll out to people across Brazil beginning today and we look forward to bringing it to everyone as we go forward,” the company said.

Users in Brazil will be able to use the payments service on WhatsApp to make purchases from local businesses without leaving their chat, the Facebook-owned service said.

“The over 10 million small and micro businesses are the heartbeat of Brazil’s communities. It’s become second nature to send a zap to a business to get questions answered. Now in addition to viewing a store’s catalog, customers will be able to send payments for products as well,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The company has been testing this payments service among users in India for months. Many had assumed that the world’s second largest internet market would be the debut region for the service.

But due to Facebook’s regulatory challenges in India, it has prevented it from expanding the payments service beyond a small, limited launch, in its biggest market.

WhatsApp had been adopted informally for commercial purposes almost from the very start: small business owners have used it to exchange messages with users around the sale of goods, what is in stock and so on.

WhatsApp Business lets small businesses post catalogues and stock links within the app; advertisers on Facebook also can create links through to their WhatsApp accounts.

But with the payments service, WhatsApp, which has amassed over 2 billion users and is finally taking a more commercial approach, giving people not just a place to chat about a product, or even send payment details, but to transact.

It is expected that WhatsApp will introduce the payment service in other locations in months to come.

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