Brazil regulator lifts Facebook ban, WhatsApp payments still suspended

Facebook’s bid to process payments in Brazil through its popular messaging platform WhatsApp has received a boost after the lifting of a suspension by a Brazilian regulator. However, Brazilians are still unable to access WhatsApp payments due to a ban by the country’s central bank.

WhatsApp announced mid last month that it would be enabling payments on its platform for Brazilian users. Its parent company Facebook had partnered with local payments company Cielo to enable in-app payments. With the country being its second-largest market after India, WhatsApp would have access to hundreds of millions of users and over 10 million small businesses.

However, barely a week later, Brazilian regulators clamped down on the company and suspended the payments. As CoinGeek reported, the Banco Central do Brasil (BCB) froze all WhatsApp payments, claiming they posed a risk to the payments industry.

Brazil’s antitrust watchdog, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), also joined the central bank in placing a ban on the payments.

Now, CADE has reversed its decision and lifted the ban, Law360 reports. The regulator claims that after reviewing additional information from Facebook and Cielo, it determined that the two weren’t a threat to competition in the Brazilian payments industry.

CADE had initially feared that Cielo and Facebook would push out many of the other payment companies. However, according to the report, Facebook convinced the regulator that it would be open to integrating other payment companies into its WhatsApp payments system.

CADE revealed that Facebook had settled most of its initial fears and skepticism. However, it will continue to investigate the partnership to ensure that there are no loose ends that the two companies can exploit.

However, despite the reprieve from CADE, WhatsApp payments remain suspended in Brazil. The central bank has yet to lift its ban. According to the bank, its decision sought to “preserve an adequate competitive environment in the mobile payments space.”

Facebook has been striving to get into the payments space for years now. Two years ago, it began testing its WhatsApp payments system in India. The Asian country is WhatsApp’s biggest market with over 400 million users.

Facebook’s biggest bid into the finance industry is through Libra, its native digital currency token. Despite initially signing up some of the biggest brands in the world, Libra seems like a pipe dream after regulators across the world shot it down. In its latest effort, it changed the name of its Libra wallet from Calibra to Novi.

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