Facebook launches WhatsApp digital payments service

WhatsApp Pay allows users to send money to one another for free.

WhatsApp launched its digital payments service in Brazil while the messaging app capitalizes on its popularity in emerging markets.

The move comes as the parent company Facebook forges ahead with plans to capitalize on emerging markets and bring e-commerce to its platforms, launching a WhatsApp-based digital payments service for the messaging app’s 120m Brazilian users.

WhatsApp, the popular messaging app acquired by Facebook in 2014, on Monday unveiled a new payment service, WhatsApp Pay, which will allow users to send money to one another for free or make purchases from small businesses, without ever leaving the chat platform.

After testing a beta version in India, WhatsApp has launched in-app payments in Brazil, the company announced in a blog post on Monday (via TechCrunch). The payments are enabled through Facebook Pay, which parent company Facebook said last year it would be rolling out to Instagram, Messenger, Facebook, and eventually WhatsApp.

Brazil is its second-largest market after India, where its efforts to launch a payments service have been held up for two years by regulators. “Making payments simple can help bring more businesses into the digital economy, opening up new opportunities for growth,” WhatsApp said on Monday. “In addition, we’re making sending money to loved ones as easy as sending a message, which could not be more important as people are physically distant from one another.”

The move comes as Facebook continues its push to facilitate more shopping on the platform, allowing it to gather data around spending patterns, and to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon. Already, the company has started to roll out Facebook Pay, a similar service, on its main Facebook platform and Messenger app, while last month it launched Facebook Shops to allow sellers to create digital storefronts on Facebook or Instagram in what Deutsche Bank analysts deemed a $30bn-a-year revenue opportunity.