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WhatsApp money transfer feature clears regulatory hurdle

The feature was removed last year, but it's coming back in Brazil.

Brazilians can use WhatsApp to send money again.
Angela Lang/CNET

WhatsApp launched its digital payments feature for users in Brazil in June, but it was quickly removed amid concerns from the country's central bank. The Facebook-owned messaging app received approval for in-app money transfers from the bank Tuesday and will be up and running soon, according to a report from Reuters

WhatsApp users in the country will be able to send each other money transfers using Visa or Mastercard as processors. The feature will be limited to peer-to-peer payments only and users won't be able to make purchases at a business. 

"We welcome the central bank's decision today to approve our payments initiator license request and are making the final preparations to have payments on WhatsApp available in Brazil as soon as possible," the company said in a statement Thursday. "Now, more than ever, safe, secure, and convenient digital payments offer a vital path to deliver money quickly to people in need and help businesses with their economic recovery."

The initial concerns from Brazil's central bank centered on WhatsApp not being recognized as a financial services company and that its usage could bring up anti-competitive and data privacy issues. 

WhatsApp rolled out digital payments in India in November. The company doesn't have an update on when the feature will be available in other countries.