The growing wave of kidnappings and crimes involving Pix led the Central Bank to consider the appeal of banks to relax the rules for using the tool. Launched in November 2020, the instant payment option has been used by criminals; they require the victim to make large transfers during robberies, or apply scams via WhatsApp messages, a practice known as “Pix Blow”.
Pix will have a transfer limit of R$1,000 between 8 pm and 6 am
The Central Bank decided to impose a limit of R$1,000 for transactions via Pix made by individual customers, including MEI, during the night shift, between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am. The measure also applies to other means of transfer, such as TED, prepaid and debit cards.
The change also applies to Facebook Pay, a payment company that offers quick payments via WhatsApp.
In a press conference, João Manoel Pinho de Mello, director of the BC’s Financial System Organization and Resolution, states that this change is not valid for companies; they can continue to make nightly transfers via Pix with the previous limit.
In the old format, banks had to provide the customer with a limit on the Pix equal to the one given for TED. The user can request an increase or decrease of this ceiling, and the order is then evaluated by the bank. But the institution cannot lower or raise the value on its own, without the client’s authorization.
But now, according to the Central Bank, this will only be maintained during the day. At night, customers can request a Pix and TED increase, but the bank must respond at least 24 hours and at most 48 hours after the request. This is only valid for digital service channels — such as the app.
If the person wants to reduce the Pix limit, the operation takes place at the same time. “Anyone who has to go to a more dangerous region can lower the Pix limit immediately,” says João Mello.
The Central Bank also determined that all banks offer pre-registered accounts that are authorized to receive transfers per Pix above the limit. The other accounts continue with the normal payment limit. Again, banks will only respond to requests to open these accounts after 24 hours, to curb fraud and kidnapping.
The federal agency will require each bank to mark in the Transactional Account Identifier Directory (DICT) database accounts suspected of being used by criminals to receive Pix. Companies must mark new accounts created especially to receive money from fraud or kidnapping.
Banks will be required to feed information from these accounts to their anti-fraud systems. Digital payment operators must “timely” share information about suspicious transactions linked to criminal activity.
Banks will monitor accounts with suspicious activity
Each bank must also take additional measures to control fraud. “To combat and mitigate the risk of fraud using digital means it is necessary to involve the top management of all institutions regulated by the Central Bank. For this reason, we are going to demand a periodic report from all the top managements of these institutions”, says Paulo Souza, the Central Bank’s Inspection Director.
Reports on fraud used in means of payment will be forwarded to the Audit Committee and the Board of Directors or, in their absence, to the Executive Board, both of the Central Bank.
BC’s new rules for bank transfers, especially via Pix, were made after requests from banks and Febraban, which aimed to prevent quick payments for kidnapping and robbery.
Currently, Pix surpasses all transfers made in TED, DOC and bank slip together, according to the Central Bank; the decision to equalize the transfer limit between Pix and TED was made precisely so that banks would not offer lower limits, benefiting other types of transfers, which charge fees.
Febraban (Brazilian Federation of Banks) confirmed to the Techblog which maintains contact with the Central Bank to accelerate the dialogue between financial institutions and the regulated body:
“In this sense, concerned with the increase in cases involving public security issues, this federation is in contact with the technical teams of the Central Bank so that additional measures for security improvements in financial transfers are regulated as soon as possible”
The federation remembers that it constantly contributes to law enforcement authorities to track criminals through Pix, “which allows the identification of the people involved and the consequent accountability”. The bank association gave tips on how Brazilians can avoid getting caught in Pix scams.
But despite scams on messengers such as WhatsApp have increased during the pandemic, and the approval of tougher laws to combat the practice, criminals are increasingly using digital means and electronic payments, such as Pix, to ask for ransom from kidnappings or even money from robberies.
Data collected by the São Paulo government reveal that both types of crime were registered in 202 occurrences since December 2020. Between April and June, there were 151 cases of criminals using Pix.