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Brazil Central Bank suspends WhatsApp digital payments

Brazil’s central bank had ordered Visa and Mastercard to suspend a joint project with WhatsApp to roll out digital payments.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is the most popular mobile messaging app in the world, with more than 1.5 billion monthly users globally, according to market tracker Statistica.

The Brazil’s central bank suggested it hadn’t had the opportunity to analyze WhatsApp’s payment service prior to its rollout.

Brazil’s central bank said it was taking the decision to “preserve an adequate competitive environment” in the mobile payments space and to ensure “functioning of a payment system that’s interchangeable, fast, secure, transparent, open and cheap.”

The suspension in WhatsApp’s second biggest market is the latest setback for Facebook’s payment ambition it was the pilot country for the platform’s new integrated payments feature, which it launched on June 15 with an eye to rolling it out worldwide.

The reason for the central bank’s decision is to preserve an adequate competitive environment, ensuring an interoperable, fast, secure, transparent, open and economical payment system,” it said in a statement

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is the most popular mobile messaging app in the world, with more than 1.5 billion monthly users globally, according to market tracker Statistica.

The in-app payment feature, which could be accessed directly within a conversation with a participating business, was free for users.

The service enables users to exchange money with one another and also pay businesses. The Facebook-owned service said at the time that it was not levying any fee to users for sending or receiving money but businesses were parting with a 3.99% processing fee to receive payments.

Businesses were to be charged a small fee similar to a typical credit card transaction.

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