A new feature introduced with the new WhatsApp update will allow some users to use the Messages app as a business directory.
A pilot program to test the service will begin in Sao Paulo, Brazil, giving thousands of local stores and services a presence on the Facebook-owned app.
“I’m excited that we’re launching a local business directory within WhatsApp,” said Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp.
“This will help you find and contact local businesses, such as your neighborhood coffee shop, florist, clothing store, and more.”
The Yellow Pages-style service will expand to other countries in the coming months if it proves successful, with India and Indonesia most likely markets to follow.
With over 2 billion users worldwide, the world’s most popular messaging app usually does a local pilot before rolling out new features globally.
“Based on feedback from people trying it out over the next few months, we will look to expand the service to other cities and other types of businesses on WhatsApp,” said Mr. Cathcart.
This is the latest move by Facebook to monetize the app’s huge user base by attracting business users with the promise of new revenue streams and more direct access to customers.
In-app purchase features have also been rolled out to other Facebook apps, although WhatsApp is unique in that it has so far avoided submitting to Facebook’s ad-based business model.
Facebook’s vice president of business messaging, Matt Idema, told Reuters: “There’s definitely a takeaway on ads, which is Facebook’s core business model, which in the long run I think will take some form of WhatsApp’s business model.” will be a part of.” .
Any new feature may face intense scrutiny, especially when it comes to user privacy. This was always a major focus of WhatsApp’s founders before selling the app to Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, although an implemented update earlier this year proved controversial when the app said it was sharing specific information with its parent company. wants.
WhatsApp said the data would only be used for commerce features, however due to backlash the company halted the rollout and changed the terms.
As for the latest update, WhatsApp has claimed to make it a “private way” and it will not log users’ location or the businesses they browse.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /