Businesses and users of WhatsApp in Brazil will be able to make digital payments using the app. According to Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, digital payments will allow people to send money securely or make purchases from local businesses from within a chat. The potential for this feature is big as there are over 10 million small and micro businesses that use WhatsApp as a part of their operations.
Since last year, businesses have been able to create product catalogs on WhatsApp which helps small firms sell goods more easily. Instead of paying through other channels, digital payments will allow users to quickly purchase items right from the catalog, further increasing the likelihood of a purchase. In its announcement, Facebook said that making payments simple will boost the digital economy and open up “new opportunities for growth.”
Explaining the new feature’s applications for non-business transactions and potential for growth in the future, Facebook said:
“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.”
At launch, WhatsApp will support debit and credit cards from Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and MasterCard networks. It is also working with payment processor Cielo but won’t include support for this network at launch. Sending money and purchasing items will be free for regular customers, but businesses will have to pay a processing fee to receive customer payments. According to Facebook, the fee will be similar to credit card fees.
To bolster security and prevent unauthorized transactions, WhatsApp will require users to key in a six-digit PIN or present a saved fingerprint stored by the device. The new feature is rolling out in Brazil from today. There’s no word on whether the feature will come to other countries.