WhatsApp then tests an integrated business directory in Brazil, India and Indonesia

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London: WhatsApp, the world’s largest instant messaging service, has launched a new feature to find businesses in its app for the first time.

The test in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which allows WhatsApp users to find stores and services through a directory within the app, is the latest feature from Facebook Inc. to boost e-commerce on its services. It includes thousands of businesses in categories such as food, retail, and local services in select neighborhoods in Sao Paulo. India and Indonesia are seen as the next good candidates to expand the functionality.

“This could be… the primary way people start a business process in WhatsApp,” said Matt Idema, vice president of business messaging for Facebook, in an interview this week.

WhatsApp, unlike its family apps Facebook and Instagram, does not serve ads. Idema said that previously companies promoted their WhatsApp numbers on packaging or websites or used Facebook ads to get users to chat on WhatsApp.

The messaging service has increasingly courted business users, with a specialized application for small businesses and an application programming interface, allowing large companies to connect their systems, which generates revenue.

While online retail continued to thrive during the pandemic, Facebook pushed in-app shopping functionality into its apps. In June, Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook Shops feature would expand to WhatsApp in multiple countries. In recent years, WhatsApp has also launched shopping tools such as product catalogs and shopping carts.

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The company, which has faced a backlash from users amid confusion over privacy updates and has been fined by Ireland’s data protection regulator for breach of privacy, said that it will not know or store the location of people’s search or results through the new directory feature.

Idema has not ruled out the possibility that WhatsApp may introduce advertisements into the app in the future.

“There’s definitely a route on ads, which is Facebook’s core business model, which in the long run I think in some form or another will be part of WhatsApp’s business model,” he said. declared. WhatsApp reports that approximately one million advertisers are currently using Facebook and Instagram’s “Click to WhatsApp” ads to send users to the messaging app.

Idema said WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $ 19 billion as part of a landmark deal in 2014 but took a long time to monetize its functionality, was also excited about non-ad models such as the creation of software to help businesses manage their services in Facebook applications.


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