Visa and Facebook choose Brazil to launch WhatsApp money transfer

92% of money transfers worldwide are to family and friends, according to Visa, and those people are often in our WhatsApp contacts
WhatsApp Messaging Application Logo

REUTERS/THOMAS WHITE  -   WhatsApp Messaging Application Logo

Initiatives such as Visa's recently announced partnership with Facebook in Brazil to send money through WhatsApp will proliferate around the world, as the payments industry sees these global messaging platforms as "great centers of customer interaction.

Rubén Salazar, Visa's senior vice president of Products and Innovation for Latin America and the Caribbean, takes this for granted in an interview with Efe in Miami.

"Customers are used to living on those platforms, we spend much more time on them than on e-mail," Salazar says of the Visa/Facebook partnership that has made sending money person-to-person as easy as sending a message through WhatsApp.

92% of money transfers worldwide are to family and friends, according to Visa, and those people are in our WhatsApp contacts, Salazar says. But Brazilians will also be able to pay through this platform to small businesses where they purchase goods or services digitally, he adds.

Transactions are possible thanks to Visa Direct technology and security is guaranteed by Visa Cloud Token, the cloud 'tokenization' that the company is launching at the same time as WhatsApp payments, the executive notes.

This is the first initiative of its kind for both the multinational payment technology company and Facebook Pay. Salazar responds affirmatively when asked if there are plans to extend the new cloud token technology to other countries, not just in Latin America.

Brazil is the pioneer country because it has the second largest WhatsApp user community in the world, with more than 120 million users, an amount only surpassed by India.

Banco do Brasil and Sicredi are the first issuers in the world to use Visa's new cloud token technology, which allows consumers to make secure payments with Facebook Pay on WhatsApp, says a statement from Visa.

Salazar explains that the WhatsApp transaction is "like any other" with a debit or credit card, but what changes is the background, which ensures security.

The 'tokenization' technology prevents the use of actual credit or debit card credentials.

The card numbers, he explains, are replaced by a unique code that corresponds to a client and a mobile device. That 'token' is not on the phone but in the cloud, to "protect consumers.

The ease of payment by WhatsApp with a Visa card also helps to promote e-commerce as a safer option than traditional commerce in the days of COVID-19 and in Brazil, says Salazar.

To date, worldwide transactions with Visa Direct have grown by approximately 70 percent during the coronavirus, according to data from the multinational payment technology company.

"We are pleased to help enable greater functionality in WhatsApp through Visa Direct and the new 'cloud' token technology to help consumers shop and pay digitally, while offering merchants greater payment options," said Fernando Teles, general manager of Visa in Brazil, in a statement.

"This is a very important milestone for Visa, as it is exactly how we strive to facilitate payments for our members, leveraging the strengths of our products to help global technology platforms like WhatsApp enable compelling payment experiences," added Teles.

From now on, WhatsApp users in Brazil will gradually start to see the payment option in the application, where they can set up an account by adding their Banco do Brasil and Sicredi Visa card to start sending and receiving money.

For small businesses to receive payments from their customers, they need to create an account using the WhatsApp Business application.

"We are excited to bring the payments on WhatsApp to our users throughout Brazil. Making it easier to send and receive money couldn't be more important than at a time like this," said Matt Idema, WhatsApp Director of Operations. "Small businesses are the backbone of the country. The ability to make sales easily within WhatsApp will help business owners adapt to the digital economy, supporting growth and financial recovery," he said.