INTRO: Just over a week after its launch in Brazil, WhatsApp’s payments service has been suspended by the country’s central bank. According to Reuters, the banking regulator has asked Visa and Mastercard to halt payments and transfers via WhatsApp Pay. Failure to comply with the order would subject the two companies to fines and administrative sanctions.
Explaining its decision, the bank said that it wasn’t able to fully analyze the service prior to its rollout. That being the case, the service in its present state could hurt competition, efficiency, and data privacy, it said. The decision to temporarily suspend the service, therefore, will “preserve an adequate competitive environment” and ensure an “interoperable, fast, secure, transparent, open and inexpensive payment system”, it claimed.
This is the latest in a long line of setbacks for WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook, over WhatsApp Pay. The service was originally expected to have launched in India back in 2017-2018. However, it has remained in limbo for more than two years due to concerns over its non-compliance with the country’s data localization regulations.
Late last year, the RBI directed the NPCI not to allow WhatsApp Pay to be rolled out in India. The regulator cited concerns about WhatsApp’s non-compliance with federal regulations as the rationale behind its decision. However, the company has now reportedly cleared all regulatory hurdles. It is finally said to be ready to launch the much-anticipated service in the country. In fact, a report back in February claimed that the company has already gotten all regulatory approvals to roll out the service across the country.