Facebook, Cielo ask Brazil's antitrust watchdog to reverse decision on payments deal

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Facebook Inc and card acquirer Cielo SA have asked Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade to reverse the suspension of an agreement they struck paving the way for WhatsApp to roll out a new payments system, according to a document.

Both companies argued that their agreement was not exclusive and allowed rival card acquirers to forge deals with the U.S. social media giant’s WhatsApp messaging system. They also said they did not operate in the same business and had merely entered a financial services agreement, saying that meant the partnership would not offer risks in terms of market concentration.

“Facebook and WhatsApp will just offer an additional channel for payments transaction between consumers and merchants,” both companies said in the document sent to Cade, which was filed on Friday but became public on Monday.

Brazil’s central bank and antitrust watchdog suspended WhatsApp’s newly launched payments service last week, warning about potential damage in the areas of competition, efficiency and data privacy. The regulators blocked WhatsApp partnerships with Visa Inc, Mastercard Inc and Cielo SA.

Reporting by Marcela Ayres, in Brasilia; writing by Carolina Mandl, in Sao Paulo; Editing by Dan Grebler