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WhatsApp begins testing local business directories in-app

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WhatsApp has rolled out a new feature that lets you find and contact local businesses, like the thick Yellow Pages directory of yore. The feature is a directory that lists all the stores and services available in your vicinity, as long as they are on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp manager Will Cathcart tweeted a few details about the directory, including that they are currently only testing it in São Paulo, Brazil. He also revealed screenshots that show the feature appearing as a separate section in your WhatsApp contact list, and it breaks down business listings into categories such as restaurants, clothing, and clothing, and so on. right now :

For those concerned about privacy, Cathcart points out that the feature does not log users’ locations or searches in the directory. Matt Idema, vice president of commercial messaging for Facebook, said the test will include thousands of local São Paulo businesses in categories such as food, retail and local services. Idema also hinted that the company may consider India and Indonesia as the next market to receive the feature.

WhatsApp began to embark on business integration in 2018 when it launched a standalone app for businesses. Last year, the platform added a buy button and carts, features that allowed users to browse and purchase items in a store directly on the messaging app. However, the actions WhatsApp has taken regarding the way it woos businesses has been controversial of late.
HeikoAL / PixabayEarlier this year, the Facebook-owned company introduced a privacy policy change that would share user data with businesses. He even threatened to penalize those who did not accept the new policy although the company finally decided not to proceed with the move and allows users to continue using WhatsApp even if they have refused to accept the policy.

Meanwhile, Idema also told Reuters that there is a possibility that WhatsApp will introduce in-app ads in the future, as ads are Facebook’s primary business model. This may not bode well for some users, so let’s see what happens when the time is right.

(Source: Will Cathcart / Twitter, Reuters. Additional picture: HeikoAL / Pixabay.)



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