Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, today, announced the arrival of a digital payment service for WhatsApp.
The project, which had been under development for a while, was launched in Brazil in what can best be described as a trial phase.
WhatsApp users in Brazil, which is one of South America’s biggest economies, now have the opportunity to pay for their transactions and send money across to loved ones, albeit securely.
A statement that was made available by WhatsApp explained that simplifying makes it easier to “bring more businesses into the digital economy, opening up new opportunities for growth.”
The new WhatsApp payment feature is enabled by Facebook Pay which was launched last year. The company said that the immediate objective is to make it possible for WhatsApp users to send money just as easily as they send messages.
With this, Facebook hopes that users of its Facebook Pay (i.e., both regular users and businesses) can be able to seamlessly use their card information across the rest of Facebook’s sister companies, including Instagram.
“In addition, we’re making sending money to loved ones as easy as sending a message, which could not be more important as people are physically distant from one another. Because payments on WhatsApp are enabled by Facebook Pay, in the future we want to make it possible for people and businesses to use the same card information across Facebook’s family of apps,” part of the statement said.
For now, the WhatsApp payment solution works in such a way that users would be required to have a unique six-digit pin, or better still use their fingerprint. This is a security measure that is intended to prevent unauthorised access by third parties.
Users would also be required to link their WhatsApp to debit or credit cards. This will be done on either the Visa or Mastercard networks. Now, because this is a limited launch only in Brazil (for now), only debit or credit cards from the following Brazilian banks will work —Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi. Facebook said it is also partnering with Cielo, a leading Brazilian payments processor.
“To start, we will support debit or credit cards from Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and Mastercard networks -and we are working with Cielo, the leading payments processor in Brazil. We have built an open model to welcome more partners in the future.”
For now, the service is free for regular Brazilian WhatsApp users. However, businesses will be required to pay a processing fee before they can receive customer payments. This is similar to the fee such businesses would be required to pay when they accept credit card transactions.