Pix first year rise popularity and challenges in security
PIX celebrates one year anniversary with huge popularity and security challenges. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil

Brazilian PIX celebrates its first anniversary with its popularity rising but faces security challenges

The instant payments system reached more than 112 million users, and launched new features to improve its services and also its security

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The Brazilian instant payments system PIX celebrates its first year this Tuesday (16) with remarkable numbers. According to recent data from the Brazilian Central Bank (BC), the transfer method has more than 112.6 million users, between individuals and legal entities, and reached the mark of 348 million registered keys by the end of October. Since it was launched, PIX has already handled BRL 3.9 trillion.

Even before its first anniversary, the new method of payment fell in favor of Brazilian consumers: 105.2 million users are individuals, while another 7.4 million users of PIX represent legal entities. The keys for transferring the values — a kind of personal code — ​​can be distributed among one or more banks.

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The success of the new payment method can also be demonstrated by the volume of transactions. In November of 2020, BRL 25 billion were transferred through PIX , against BRL 502 billion in October 2021.

PIX also registered a 5% increase in payments from individuals to companies, in November 2020 vs. 16% in October 2021.

Scams and safety challenges: PIX’s growing pains

The instant payment system is already the second favorite in the country, according to a survey carried out by the National Confederation of Store Leaders (CNDL) and by the Credit Protection Service (SPC Brasil), in partnership with Sebrae. When asked about the most used payment methods, Brazilians answered cash (71%), PIX (70%), debit card (66%) and credit card (57%).

According to the survey, the preference for the PIX — almost a tie with cash — is due to the facilities of the technology launched by the Central Bank. According to users interviewed by the survey, the main differentials of the service are: practicality and speed (83%), eliminating the need for contact with people or machines (34%) and safety (32%).

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If it’s true that the PIX has caught Brazilians’ tastes, it’s also a fact that the new payment method faces security challenges. In August, the Central Bank announced new security rules for the PIX (also applicable to other means of payment), including a limit of BRL 1,000 for transactions between individuals in the period between 8 pm and 6 am.

The announcement comes after a series of reports on the rise of crime, including kidnappings, because of the ease with which money can change hands using the new method. The concern with security is one of the main challenges of the PIX, since the format allows immediate transfers made seven days a week, at any time.

New features and open banking

With the successful launch, BC has added new features to the payment system. Among them is a return mechanism that should expedite the reimbursement of victims of fraud or operational failures by financial institutions. The new feature was ruled in June but goes into operation this Tuesday (16).

During the event “(R)evolução Pix – 1 ano”, the president of the Central Bank, Roberto Campos Neto, stated that the bank plans even more features for PIX‘s future, including payment even without internet connectivity.

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Campos Neto assessed that the PIX has not yet reached its full potential, noting that the use of QR Codes, for example, still depends on better assimilation of the technology by users.

In addition to a way for users to get their money back, the service should also receive two new features as of November 29: PIX Saque and PIX Troco.

The first allows cash withdrawals at any point where the service is offered, such as stores and ATMs. In this modality, the account holder only needs to point the cell phone at a QR Code, make a PIX for the establishment, and can withdraw the money.

On the other hand, PIX Troco allows withdrawal during the payment of a purchase. In other words, the customer buys a product, transfers a value higher than the purchase, and withdraws change in cash.

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In October, the Central Bank started the third phase of the open banking process when the integration of the data-sharing ecosystem with the PIX takes place. In practice, this means that the user will be able to make a payment or transfer via PIX and can use platforms other than the bank where he has an account.

In this phase, payment initiators, companies regulated by the Central Bank that can initiate payments and transfers to customers, also begin to operate in the open banking ecosystem.

Payment initiators are companies dedicated to this purpose, which do not necessarily offer accounts and do not have access to users’ bank accounts.

(With informations from Agência Brasil)