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WhatsApp starts testing a new business directory in São Paulo

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WhatsApp is testing a new business directory in São Paulo, Brazil, which allows users to find local stores and services with an in-app presence, announced the head of the service, Will Cathcart.

Screenshots show how WhatsApp will show said companies classified by categories such as “grocery” and “restaurant”, before allowing users to chat directly with each other. The test will include thousands of companies in the city of São Paulo.

While Facebook’s messaging service is most famous for this type of person-to-person messaging service, e-commerce has increasingly become an important part of its offering in recent years. In October of last year, WhatsApp reported that more than 175 million people around the world used the service to send messages to a corporate WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp has been offering a standalone app for small businesses since the year 2018 and has since added more and more features such as support for product catalogs and shopping carts. In Brazil and India, it also started to offer in-app payments, allowing users to make purchases directly from companies, in addition to sending money to friends and family.

This e-commerce push created problems for WhatsApp earlier this year, after updating its privacy policy. The changes were widely interpreted as giving WhatsApp the ability to share people’s personal chat data with Facebook, when in fact the changes only applied to chats with businesses.

In addition to its small business app, WhatsApp also offers a WhatsApp business API to connect large businesses to customers. It’s notable for being one of the few ways in which WhatsApp is monetized directly, as it currently doesn’t display ads like Facebook and Instagram.

Source: Whatsapp

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