WhatsApp now lets users send and receive money in Brazil

Facebook has relaunched the feature almost a year after Brazil's central bank blocked it.


WhatsApp payments are now available in Brazil again, according to Reuters. The Facebook-owned chat service has relaunched the feature almost a year after it first went live in the country. Brazil served as the launching pad for WhatsApp's mobile payments — it rolled out in India a few months later — but its central bank forced the service to suspend the feature shortly after its launch. The banking authority only gave WhatsApp the approval to facilitate Visa— or Mastercard-backed peer-to-peer payments this March after looking into whether it meets all the rules on "competition, efficiency and data privacy."

According to a previous Reuters report, WhatsApp tried to avoid being categorized as a financial services company by relying on Visa's and Mastercard's existing bank licenses. The payment processors were instructed to suspend money transfer activities through WhatsApp, though, and had to secure new permits. As for the chat service, its parent company had to create a new unit called Facebook Pagamentos do Brasil that's now being regulated by the central bank.

While the feature has been relaunched in Brazil, it won't be accessible to everyone from the get—go. Only a limited number of users will have access to it at first, and they'll have the power to invite other people to use the feature. Users will only be able to send up to 5,000 Brazilian Real (US$918) per month to each other free of charge. Further, a single transaction has a 1,000 Brazilian Real (US$184) limit, and users can't process more than 20 transfers per day.

WhatsApp can only process peer-to-peer transfers at the moment, but it originally introduced the feature to help small merchants. Local businesses in Brazil and India have been using the chat app as their primary online presence, and the payment feature was supposed to help them easily accept digital payments. Facebook is still in talks with the central bank for merchant payments, and the company reportedly expects launch the feature sometime this year.