An instant payments revolution started in Brazil

a woman scans a QR code on a phone in a car

Fiserv technology is facilitating the Pix payments service in Brazil, with more to come

Brazil has a large, diversified economy – the world's ninth largest economy by GPD – with a workforce of nearly 100 million people and a strong domestic consumer economy. In 2020, Brazil's Central Bank launched Pix, an ambitious project to change how the country pays and moves money.

Pix proved to be a transformative event in the economic life of the country.

Fiserv innovation and expertise has been central to Pix, and Jorge Valdivia, General Manager of Brazil, Fiserv, joined us to discuss the results of the initiative and how it is helping Brazil become a payments model for other economies around the world.

What is Pix, and why is it important in Latin America?

Valdivia: Pix is a digital, instant payment system created by the Central Bank of Brazil, the entity that regulates banking in the country. Pix enables funds transfers between accounts in a few seconds, on any day and at any time. Using a QR code or Pix alias, individuals, businesses and government entities can send and receive payments with ease.

After the service was launched in 2020, it quickly got the attention of Brazilian consumers and businesses alike. It’s free for consumers, and the cost to businesses is modest. And as an instant solution that’s available 24/7, accommodates all payment types in real time and has the security features of authentication and encryption built-in, Pix provided funds transfer capabilities that Brazil had never seen before.

The Central Bank launched the service as a way to foster greater competition in the Brazilian banking industry. It has also spurred economic activity. 

How have consumers and businesses responded to Pix?

Valdivia: The popularity of Pix with users has been explosive. According to the results of a Fiserv study, in just a few years Pix has become the payment method of choice for Brazilians. About 140 million people use the service – almost two-thirds of the population – and it processes more than 3 billion transactions each month.

Brazilians are familiar with a variety of payment options, but Pix is the one used most frequently, across all regions, genders and age groups. In 2022, Pix traffic accounted for almost 30% of all electronic payments in Brazil – higher than the 20% for credit cards and 19% for debit cards.

The appeal of Pix is understandable. Merchants, as well as vendors and gig workers, receive their payments instantly, making business relationships much more positive and pleasant. And for consumers, it has promoted financial inclusion. Brazil has millions of people who were unbanked, many of them because usage fees attached to a bank account or credit card were unaffordable to them. They weren’t fully participating in the economy. Because it’s free to individuals, Pix has gotten them in the game.

The success of Pix has caused retailers to rethink their payment channels to accommodate this change in consumer preferences.

How is Fiserv supporting Pix adoption and use?

Valdivia: Fiserv has been a major player. In Brazil, Fiserv offers an integration hub for Pix payments that enables businesses of all types and sizes to use multiple Pix features and connect with financial institutions and payment service providers. The hub is currently integrated with more than 170,000 merchants in the country, with more than 1 million points of sale and more than 750,000 terminals that operate with acquiring services from Fiserv.

Through the Pix hub, we offer modalities such as Pix Billing, Pix Withdrawal and Pix Change and functionality such as Pix Return (full and partial) and Pix Routing (contingency). Now these organizations and retailers can open a new revenue stream, save time and money related to withdrawals, and offer a better and more convenient user experience.

Fiserv has carried out up to 70 million Pix person-to-business (P2B) transactions in a single month. More than 87% of this volume was completed through Pix hub technology from Fiserv. Since the start of Pix, the company has been responsible for more than 600 million Pix P2B transactions, moving R$ 56 billion. And the APIs used to receive payments from financial and payments institutions (known as payment services enablers, or PSPs in Portuguese) are compatible with the main commercial automations on the Brazilian market.


What's next for Pix? What role will Fiserv play?

Valdivia: Research indicates that, over the next 10 years, Pix is likely to remain the preferred payment method in Brazil, with 87% of consumers saying they plan to use it. This paves the way for Pix expansion to other countries in Latin America.

That objective got a big boost in December, when the president of the Central Bank of Brazil, Governor Roberto Campos Neto, announced that the Pix protocols would be made available for free to all central banks that want to copy them.

We think Pix is a success story that can be replicated in lots of other emerging markets. Fiserv will be there to help.