Brazil Unveils Key Pix Updates, Including International And Recurring Payments

June 15, 2023
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The Brazilian official responsible for the creation and operation of Pix has announced three major updates to the country’s popular instant payment system.

The Brazilian official responsible for the creation and operation of Pix has announced three major updates to the country’s popular instant payment system.

The updates include adding recurring payments to Pix, enabling international payments and offering new solutions for marketplaces to meet new consumer demands.

The new features were announced by Carlos Brandt, deputy head of the Brazilian Central Bank’s (BCB) Department of Competition and Financial Market Structure, at the Criptorama conference in Brasilia.

Brandt has been the driving force behind Pix’s ever-evolving agenda, working on international transfers on Pix for several years.

He previously led projects to set up Pix prepaid debit cards and an offline option to increase access to cash.

Three ambitious Pix updates

Brandt now says the BCB is working on a number of major updates to Pix, including automatic, or recurring, payments.

The new feature, called Pix Automático, will be designed to enable both online and physical businesses to debit payments on a recurring basis and will help consumers not to forget about their periodic payments.

According to Brandt, it will work on different access dynamics than what is currently in place, although he did not disclose further details about the specifics.

"It's a very complex product with flexibility to meet different needs and use cases and with a broad competition scenario where numerous market players will be able to offer these products,” Brandt was cited by local media as saying.

It is so far uncertain when the BCB will roll out the service and what pricing it intends to apply.

However, if the central bank takes a similar approach as it took to other segments of business payments, the new feature may save millions for merchants offering subscription-based services.

As a 2022 study by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) concluded, Pix is “much cheaper than alternatives such as card payments”.

Pix payments cost merchants on average 0.22 percent of the transaction value, compared with the 2.2 percent fee Brazilian merchants pay on a credit card transaction and one-fifth of the 1 percent estimated average fee on debit card transactions.

Along with the recurring payment offering, the central bank is also working to enhance cross-border payments by making them cheaper, faster and more efficient.

Brandt said the central bank is currently considering two options for this new cross-border service, which has been dubbed Pix Internacional.

One of the options involves the direct integration of Pix with existing payment systems in other countries, while the other one would see Pix connecting indirectly with national payment systems through existing market initiatives.

Finally, Brandt also revealed plans to streamline payment solutions for marketplaces.

Under that initiative, the BCB is considering various new payment solutions such as delivery versus payment (DvP).

When DvP is applied, the marketplace acts as an intermediary, temporarily retaining consumer funds and forwarding the money to the seller upon delivery.

Another solution, called "shopping carts" will enable consumers to buy multiple products from different sellers with one payment on Pix.

A never-ending story

Launched at the tail end of 2020, Pix has become a major payments success story.

By the end of May, more than 137m people and over 12m companies registered with the central bank to be able to use Pix, the vast majority of whom actively use the service.

There were more than 3bn transactions carried out on Pix last month to the value of $235bn.

In 2023, Pix has significantly evolved from its initial use case of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, highlighted by the growth in people-to-business (P2B), which increased from 5 percent at the start of the year to its current 29 percent, Brandt said.

Despite the great success, there is plenty of room to expand Pix to enable use cases that it does not yet serve or does not serve well, according to the Pix chief.

Pix is a "continuous project with continuous evolution over time” and it always aims to offer the payment options that people and businesses need, Brandt was quoted as saying.

“It has no beginning, middle and end.”

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