Brazil’s top central banker sees digital currency platforms like the monetary authority’s popular instant-payment application eventually replacing credit cards and other traditional financial instruments.
(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s top central banker sees digital currency platforms like the monetary authority’s popular instant-payment application eventually replacing credit cards and other traditional financial instruments.
“The credit card of the future is just going to be programmable money. You’re not going to have a card anymore,” central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto said Friday at an event organized by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in Miami. “You’re not going to be paying the big credit card companies the amount of money that you pay today, because you’re going to be able to do it in a much easier and faster way.”
Pix, the digital payment system the central bank launched in late 2020, has already surpassed credit and debit cards as the most preferred method of payment in Brazil, recording more than 8 billion transactions in the first quarter of this year.
Integrated into banking applications and easily accessible on smartphones, it is used by more than 141 million individual Brazilians and nearly 13 million businesses. Its popularity has continued to explode thanks to its ease of use and advantages over credit cards for both consumers and companies: In early October, Pix set a record of 163 million transactions in a single day.
But it is only part of the digital currency revolution that Campos Neto sees unfolding in the coming years.
Brazil’s central bank is already pushing forward with new ideas: It has two companies currently working on digital wallet platforms, he said. The monetary authority has also continued to develop both a digital currency and an open finance system that allows individuals to share credit information with different banks.
Campos Neto acknowledged that banks have not developed or adopted some of his ideas — like an “offline wallet” that would allow consumers to access and transfer money without an internet or phone signal — as quickly as he’d hoped.
Pix, however, has continued to evolve since its much-heralded debut, with the central bank recently adding cash-back capabilities for consumers at the register. It is also moving toward allowing payments in installments, a common feature of Brazilian credit cards.
“The idea is that Pix is programmable, so the opportunities are endless,” he said, pointing to automatic and programmed payments as two transactions that systems like it can make easier.
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Pix’s soaring popularity in Brazil has caught the interest of policymakers in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay, as they seek to boost digital payment options. Employees of Brazil’s central bank have met with their regional counterparts to explain the platform’s development.
The Federal Reserve recently followed in Brazil’s footsteps with the start of its FedNow payment service in the US, while global organizations like the Bank of International Settlements have also studied the platform.
Campos Neto touted the app’s ability to promote financial inclusion, saying that it has allowed 70 million people to enter the banking system and suggesting that future developments could help integrate even more.
“Technology is the most democratizing tool out there,” he said.
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