Will Cathcart, president of WhatsApp, announced that the app is testing a new business directory in São Paulo, Brazil that allows users to find local stores and services that have a presence on the app, similar to Yellow pages. The screenshots show how WhatsApp will display businesses sorted by categories such as "grocery store" and "restaurant", before allowing users to chat with them directly. Reuters reported that the test will include thousands of businesses in the city.
And while the Facebook-owned messaging service is best known for being a person-to-person messaging service, e-commerce has become an increasingly important part of its offerings in recent years. As of last October, WhatsApp reported that more than 175 million people globally have used the service. To send messages to WhatsApp business account daily.
WhatsApp has offered a standalone app for small businesses since 2018 and has since added features like support for product catalogs and shopping carts. In Brazil and India, it has also started offering in-app payments, allowing users to make purchases directly from businesses, as well as send money to friends and family.
Cathcart said WhatsApp does not log the locations of users or companies they browse when using the new directory feature.
In addition to the WhatsApp Small Business app, WhatsApp also offers the WhatsApp Business API to connect large businesses with customers. It is worth noting that it is one of the few ways in which WhatsApp is monetized directly since it does not currently display ads like Facebook and Instagram.
Although WhatsApp rolled back its immediate plans to display in-app ads last year, Facebook's Vice President of Business Messages Matt Idema told Reuters that he expects "in the long term" ads will be part of WhatsApp's business model "in one form or another."
Although the pilot program is limited to one city in Brazil at the moment, Idema said India and Indonesia were among the candidates for future expansion.