Last year, Pix grew by leaps and bounds in Brazil, further disrupting Latin America’s largest economy and paving the way for a new wave of digitization.
In 2022, the instant payment system launched by the Central Bank continued on its upward trend. Transactions grew consistently in the second year of its launch. By 2023, it had almost 135 million users in a country with a population of 210 million. At the same time, transactions now surpass the trillion reais mark per month, or close to $200 billion.
Its swift growth has been vital to the further digitization of Brazil. It has also inspired many as a fruitful case for disruption in emerging markets.
This begs the question. How far can Pix go?
Pix’s disruption exacted a heavy toll on the payment business of traditional banks. Most had to give away some of those fees, although the sharp digitization is paying off.
However, Pix is a constantly-evolving product, with new features being recurringly rolled out.
Pix is constantly evolving
Credit card businesses could bear the brunt this year as the central bank is closing in on Pix Garantido. It is a feature that could resemble a traditional credit card model.
Still, under development, it was recently announced by finance minister Fernando Haddad. He said Pix’s credit functionality could be launched this 2023 around mid-year.
According to experts, this could have a significant impact on the credit market in Brazil.
“When Pix Garantido is launched, it can have a greater effect on the loan market,” Paulo Oliveira Andreoli, a fintech advisor, told Fintech Nexus. However, he said that despite Haddad’s commentary, the feature still does not have a date for 2023.
Today, Pix already allows users to preschedule payments shortly. The idea behind Garantido is that the financial institution will guarantee the transaction if the user does not have the necessary balance in the account at the convened date.
Direct debit: Pix Automatico
“PIX functionalities in 2023 pave the way for the traditional economy to get closer and closer to the digital world,” Marcela Lachowski, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Plug and Play Tech Center in Brazil, told Fintech Nexus.
“This creates a relevant market for existing wallets in the ecosystem. In itself, programmed PIX can be a great substitute for bank slip payments.”
One of the other new features expected for 2023 is Pix Automatico. This will work similarly to direct debit, facilitating recurring payments such as public services, subscription services, and school or gym fees.
However, contrary to direct debit, Oliveira Andreoli said that the company collecting payments does not need to enter an agreement with banks. This could have significant implications for small and medium-sized businesses in Brazil.
“Companies that had difficulties or could not afford the costs of these bank agreements will be able to use Pix Automatico so that their customers can make recurring payments,” he said. “It can also be used by schools, gyms, and other subscription services to receive payments easily.”
Improving Pix security in 2023 to stave off fraud
Despite Pix’s massive contribution to digitization, the reality is that it has also become a fertile ground for fraudsters. Scams related to Pix have surged since its launch. Criminals took advantage of its simplicity and wide availability to conduct fraud.
Estimates by the banks point out that scams can cause losses of 2.5 billion (or $500 million) in 2022 against the Brazilian financial system, of which 70% would originate from Pix transactions.
To discourage crime, the central bank took some actions. It has lowered limits for Pix transactions, especially during nighttime. Withdrawals on Pix Saque (cashback) were also reduced earlier this 2023.
Altogether, experts believe the central bank will improve overall security this year. “We should expect improvements in Pix’s fraud prevention mechanisms,” Oliveira Andreoli said. Also, streamlining the return mechanism of funds in the event of a scam.
Is Pix International on its way?
Due to its wide success, Roberto Campos Neto, president of the central bank, said last year its protocols would be made available to other regulators to replicate.
On February 27, he said that Brazil was already negotiating with four other countries in Latin America. These included Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Uruguay. The goal of Pix International goes far beyond the idea of replicating the system. It could also become the bedrock for facilitating cross-border transactions.
“Some countries in Latin America are already discussing with us how they are going to adopt Pix,” he said in an event, local media reported. “We think this will operate as a block. You travel between countries and pay automatically. Thus, the issue of cross-border payment is solved.”