Meta’s WhatsApp rolls out business payment tool in Brazil

WhatsApp is introducing the ability for users to directly pay businesses through chat in Brazil enabling end-to-end shopping. The interface looks like Apple Pay/GPay, but that will actually work for emerging markets’ financial systems.

WhatsApp payments screen shown on 4 smartphones

Mark Zuckerberg made this announcement in a post saying that the company is rolling out the ability for users to “pay local businesses right in a WhatsApp chat.”

“This seamless and secure checkout experience will be a game-changer for people and small businesses looking to buy and sell on WhatsApp without having to go to a website, open another app or pay in person. We’re rolling out today to a small number of businesses and will be available to many more in the coming months,” the company said in the announcement.

Until now, users were able to make peer-to-peer transactions through WhatsApp Pay in Brazil. But due to regulatory restrictions, Meta wasn’t able to roll out this ability to make purchases through merchants. Shops could use a third-party payment service to generate a payment link and include it in a WhatsApp message — but this wasn’t a seamless experience for either the merchant or the shopper.

There is no data on how many small businesses there are on WhatsApp right now. The company last announced in 2020 that more than 5 million businesses in Brazil use WhatsApp.

Last year, WhatsApp rolled out a Yellow Pages-like “Dictionary” feature in Brazil that allowed users to search for different kinds of businesses, ranging from food and drink to travel. Combining these two capabilities, users can search for different businesses, add items they want to buy, and pay the merchant within the app.

WhatsApp said that users can make a payment through Mastercard and Visa debit, credit and pre-paid cards issued by “numerous” participating banks. To accept these payments, businesses can link a service provider like Cielo, Mercado Pago or Rede to their account. These companies had already built the technical infrastructure for peer-to-peer payment over WhatsApp in Brazil.

The company debuted an end-to-end shopping experience with Reliance Jio in India, letting customers order groceries through the app. According to reports, JioMart saw an uptick in active users coming to shop through WhatsApp.

In February, Zuckerberg declared that this is a “year of efficiency” for Meta, signaling that the company would concentrate on cutting costs and generating more revenue. So this is the right time for debuting merchant payment services in the country with more than 120 million WhatsApp users.

In the past few years, people in Brazil have rapidly adopted digital payments. Data suggests that by last year, more than 124 multiple people were using Pix — an instant payment platform managed by the country’s central bank.

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