Brazil’s central bank has imposed spending limits on its new PIX instant payments platform in the face of a sharp increase in “lightning kidnappings”.

São Paulo has seen a 40% rise in lightning kidnappings – where people are grabbed on the street and forced to transfer money in exchange for their release – in the first six months of the year.The increase has been attributed by police to PIX, which launched late last year to let citizens make instant payments 24/7/365 through mobile phones, online banking and ATMs.

“These lightning kidnappings were kind of dormant. But since PIX entered the market in November last year, we have noticed a significant increase in cases,” Tarsio Severo, from the department of special police operations in São Paulo told local media.

In response, the central bank has put a $200 transfer limit on P2P payments between 8pm and 6am, when most attacks occur. In addition, there is now minimum waiting time for increasing transfer limits and people can choose to set their own different limits for day and night, according to the Financial Times.

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