WhatsApp business payments approved in Brazil as Meta looks to diversify revenues

Users in Brazil will now be able to make payments to small- and medium-sized businesses on WhatsApp, in what could be the next great source of revenue for Meta.

After initially blocking it, Brazil's central bank has approved Meta's new feature of direct merchant payments on WhatsApp, its popular messaging app.

"Excited to roll this out soon," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on an Instagram broadcast channel shortly after the central bank announced its decision.

Meta said it would prioritize an "open model" for the feature, and that it was in the final testing stages with several partners, including some of Brazil's top payment companies, such as Cielo, Fiserv, and Getnet.

It would "ensure the access of as many companies and people as possible to the service," Guilherme Horn, head of WhatsApp in Latin America, said in a LinkedIn post.

Once the feature launches, users will be able to browse for products and services in the app and pay for them with Mastercard and Visa debit and credit cards, directly in the conversation.

The company planned to launch merchant payments in Brazil in late 2021 but faced regulatory obstacles. Users can already send money to each other via WhatsApp in Brazil, the messaging app's second-biggest market, and India, its largest.

Brazil is a testing ground for Meta's plans to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger as it seeks alternative income streams to offset falling revenues from advertising, its core business.

Additionally, Meta announced last month it would launch a subscription service for Facebook and Instagram. The company has also cut 11,000 jobs to slash costs as it continues to pursue its virtual reality ambitions, despite its metaverse unit losing billions last year.

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