WhatsApp rolls out a test for yellow pages-style business directory

The test is now limited to Sao Paulo in Brazil

WhatsApp rolls out a test for yellow pages-style business directory

WhatsApp’s head of service Will Cathcart revealed that the company is testing a new business directory in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that will allow users to identify local stores and services that have a presence on the app. WhatsApp would display companies classified by categories such as “grocery store” and “restaurant” before allowing users to talk directly with them, as shown in screenshots. According to reports from news sites, the test will involve thousands of companies throughout the city.

Despite the fact that the Facebook-owned messaging service is most known for its person-to-person messaging, e-commerce has become a more prominent element of its offering in recent years. According to WhatsApp, over 175 million individuals utilized the service every day to message a WhatsApp business account as of late October.

WhatsApp has had a standalone app for small companies since 2018, and it has since been updated to include features such as product catalogues and shopping carts. It has also begun to offer in-app payments in Brazil and India, allowing users to make purchases directly from companies as well as send money to friends and family.

However, when WhatsApp revised its privacy policy earlier this year, this e-commerce drive caused issues. The modifications were widely misinterpreted as allowing WhatsApp to share data from people’s personal talks with Facebook, while in reality they only related to business discussions, which might result in data being retained on Facebook servers. The new policy sparked outrage, with Telegram and Signal, two WhatsApp competitors, reporting a jump in new users as a result. When users utilize the new directory feature, Cathcart claims WhatsApp does not track their location or the companies they visit.

WhatsApp has a WhatsApp Business API that connects larger enterprises with clients, in addition to its app for small businesses. It’s notable since it’s one of the few ways WhatsApp is directly monetized, as it doesn’t currently display advertisements like Facebook and Instagram. Despite the fact that WhatsApp apparently backed down from its intentions to show in-app advertisements last year, Facebook’s vice president of business communications Matt Idema told that he expected ads to remain part of WhatsApp’s revenue model “in some form or another”, over the long run.

Despite the fact that the pilot is now limited to one city in Brazil, Idema stated that India and Indonesia were among the contenders for future growth.