Initially only able in Brazil, the new feature allows person-to-person payments through the app, which currently has over two billion users worldwide.
The new WhatsApp digital payments service will also allow users to make purchases from within the app, although features will initially be confined to select debit and credit cards. However, the company says it is aiming to widen that reach to other partners as the service expands to additional countries.
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"We’re excited to announce that starting today we’re bringing digital payments to WhatsApp users in Brazil. People will be able to send money securely or make a purchase from a local business without leaving their chat," the company wrote in a blog post announcing the news.
Like the WhatsApp platform itself, payments are free to use, with a number of Mastercard and Visa-backed banks in Brazil already signed up, suggesting a similar arrangement might happen in other markets.
WhatsApp expanded on the possibilities for retailers using the app, noting that simplifying payments simple can help small businesses get online and grow quickly.
The payment system on WhatsApp is enabled by Facebook Pay, which launched back in November 2019, and is already in force across the parent company's family of apps, including Messenger and Instagram.
WhatsApp says that extensive security is built in to the new payments service, with users needing to scan their fingerprint or enter a special six digit PIN to prevent any unauthorized transactions.
There's no news on when the system will roll out to other markets, but given the amount of users WhatsApp has around the world, the company will surely be following its initial Brazilian launch with interest.
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