It’s no secret that Facebook has a bold plan to revolutionize money transfers by leveraging the power of the blockchain to offer nearly instant transactions across borders. But Facebook’s cryptocurrency has met plenty of resistance from regulators. And it’ll be a while until the payment system is up and running.
Until then, Facebook will offer users a different way to send money to their contacts and even pay for goods online. Powered by Facebook Pay, WhatsApp now has its own digital payments system in place. And if you happen to be reading this in Brazil, you can check out the new feature right now.
WhatsApp is Facebook’s most expensive bet so far, with a price tag of $19 billion. However, WhatsApp is also one of the most popular chat apps in the world. Supporting more than two billion people across platforms. WhatsApp is Facebook’s only chat app that supports end-to-end encryption. And it will be integrated into the company’s future universal chat system that will include Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
WhatsApp piloted a payment service in India, but the first market to see it in operation will be Brazil. WhatsApp said in an announcement that users in Brazil will be able to send payments to local businesses directly from the app. The feature will also support money transfers to family and friends.
Transfers between people will be available free of charge. While payments for goods will be subject to a processing fee paid by businesses. These commissions will be similar to what they pay when accepting credit card transactions. The transactions are protected via six-digit PINs or a fingerprint, the report notes, but not Face ID.
Initially, the feature will support Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards issued by Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi. Cielo, the leading payment processor in Brazil, processes payments.
The feature is only rolling out in Brazil, so you won’t get to test it anywhere else. WhatsApp has a page that offers a visual demo of the new payments feature if you want to see what it looks like. It’s likely the feature will be available in other markets once Facebook clears regulatory hurdles. But the company didn’t reveal any other markets. Facebook Pay could be used in the future to support payments across the unified chat system the company is working on.