June 25, 2020 / 2:00 PM / 12 days ago

WhatsApp says Brazil central bank willing to restore payments service

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Whatsapp logo is placed between small toy people figures in front of a keyboard in this illustration taken April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O) messaging service WhatsApp said on Thursday that Brazil’s central bank had said it intended to find a way to restore the payments service in the country by working with Visa Inc (V.N) and Mastercard Inc (MA.N).

“The central bank made clear that they support platforms like WhatsApp that are innovating in digital payments,” Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s central bank and antitrust watchdog suspended WhatsApp’s newly launched payments services, as they see potential damage in the areas of competition, efficiency and data privacy. Regulators blocked WhatsApp partnerships with Visa, Mastercard and Cielo SA (CIEL3.SA).

As Cielo is the only card acquirer in a deal with WhatsApp, Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade is investigating if the terms of the partnership could favor it in terms of exclusivity.

Cade estimates WhatsApp could increase Cielo’s card transactions by 10% in a conservative scenario. Cielo is already the country’s biggest acquirer with a 41% market share

Still, Whatsapp reinforced in the statement its plans to open the service to more players in the future and to provide payments via central bank payments platform PIX.

Brazil is the first country where WhatsApp has announced a nationwide payments service. It has over 120 million users, its second largest market behind India.

The central bank did not immediately comment on the matter.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl, in Sao Paulo, and Gabriel Pontes, in Brasilia; Editing by Christian Plumb and Jonathan Oatis

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