Brazil Banking Head Calls For Probe Into WhatsApp Payments


WhatsApp will be allowed to operate its payments service in Brazil once the company formally seeks permission and shows it can operate in the country without putting customers’ data at risk or violating rules intended to preserve competition, the company’s chief central banker said Thursday, according to Reuters.

Roberto Campos Neto also said in a webcast reported via the Congresso Em Foco news site that the government never blocked the service, which Facebook shut down last week — just days after launching it — due to what reports at the time said was a mandate from banking regulators.

“The Central Bank never forbade WhastApp to operate,” Campos Neto said. This article is based on computerized translations of his remarks to English from Portguese. “This news is not true,” he continued. “What the Central Bank understood is that (WhatsApp payments can affect) the economy and that it needed to go through the same approval process as (competitors).”

Shortly after WhatsApp Pyments was frozen around June 21, Brazilian officials suggested a path forward was possible. Campos Neto’s latest remarks, initially reported by the newspaper Correio Braziliense, were more definitive than earlier statements.

“We have a super pro-competition agenda,” he is quoted saying. “As soon as it is proven that it is a competitive arrangement and that it has data protection in the form that we understand necessary, it will be approved.”

WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users worldwide, according to reports.

According to Reuters, WhatsApp has more than 120 million users in Brazil, second only to its subscriber-base in India.

WhatsApp owner Facebook’s troubles in Brazil come as the company is fighting a significant boycott of advertisers in the U.S. and other countries. Some companies pulling their advertising said they are doing so because of the social media platform’s failure to prevent its usage as a medium for spreading hateful messages.