The development of business messaging has become all the more urgent as Meta's core advertising business has stalled.

The service, provided in partnership with payment processors including MercadoLibre's Mercado Pago, Itau Unibanco's Rede and Cielo , will allow WhatsApp users to make purchases and pay directly through the app with credit and debit cards from Mastercard and Visa, Meta said in a statement.

The tool will initially be available for some merchants that use WhatsApp Business. Clients of WhatsApp's API, which mainly serves large businesses, will be able to receive payments in the future, it added.

While Brazil is the first country to have the service launched for small businesses using the free version of WhatsApp Business, in India, WhatsApp's largest market, users can make payments to businesses that use the application's paid API. 

The announcement comes after Brazil's central bank approved the tool last month after nearly three years of regulatory scrutiny, as authorities feared the service could hit competition, efficiency and data privacy.

WhatsApp users in Brazil have been able to make payments between users through the app since 2021, and last year, Meta launched a commercial directory for WhatsApp in Brazil, allowing users find companies with business messaging accounts.

(Reporting by Andre Romani; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Sarah Morland and Leslie Adler)

By Andre Romani