WhatsApp users in Brazil can now officially pay small businesses for goods and services from within the Meta-owned messaging app, the company has announced. The payments-to-merchant feature is available now for a “small number of businesses” but will be rolling out more widely in the coming months, allowing customers to make purchases using Mastercard or Visa credit, debit, or prepaid cards “without having to go to a website, open another app or pay in person.”
The rollout of WhatsApp payment services in Brazil has been a multiyear process and is complicated by the fact that the messaging app has been trying to offer both peer-to-peer transfers and payments-to-merchant services within its app. On the peer-to-peer side, WhatsApp originally launched its payments feature back in 2020 only to see the service suspended by the country’s central bank days later over competition concerns. Peer-to-peer payments eventually returned a year later, but WhatsApp was still struggling to get merchant payments off the ground as of early 2022.
TechCrunch reports that businesses have previously been able to accept payments through WhatsApp by using third-party payments services, but now, the messaging service offers payment functionality directly.
Payments services like this are important for WhatsApp as it increasingly pitches itself as a way to message and interact with businesses as well as simply communicate with friends and family. It’s a pitch that shares a lot of similarities with Tencent’s WeChat, the Chinese service that’s been described as the “app for everything” that offers social media and payment features in addition to instant messaging.
WhatsApp has rolled out similar payments features in its other major market, India. As of April last year, TechCrunch notes, it had government approval to offer payments services to 100 million users, and it also offers an “end-to-end shopping experience” with JioMart.