WhatsApp told Reuters that it launched a feature on Wednesday which would allow users to search for businesses within the app.
According to Will Cathcart, service lead at WhatsApp, the rollout will begin with a test in São Paulo, Brazil.
He shared images of how WhatsApp will organize businesses in the directory into categories such as “restaurant” and “automotive service”.
Reuters said the test would include thousands of businesses in São Paulo and would bolster ecommerce on WhatsApp’s services by allowing users to find and contact businesses through the in-app directory.
WhatsApp, unlike Facebook and Instagram, does not feature in-app advertisements.
According to Matt Idema, Vice President of business messaging at Facebook, companies previously promoted their WhatsApp details on packaging and websites or used Facebook ads to bring potential customers into WhatsApp chats.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform currently offers an app for small businesses and a specialised software interface for larger organisations to link their systems.
WhatsApp indicated to Reuters that the new directory feature would not allow the company to know or store user data relating to location, searches, or results.
This comes after the company faced criticism over privacy updates and breaches, which ultimately landed WhatsApp a R4 billion fine.
Idema indicated that India and Indonesia are ideal next candidates to expand the feature further.
I’m excited we’re starting to pilot a local business directory within @WhatsApp. This will help you find and contact local businesses, like your neighborhood coffee shop, florist, clothing store and more.https://t.co/kNvUtn7FWR
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) September 15, 2021