WhatsApp begins testing local business directories

WhatsApp already lets you chat with businesses, but you may soon be able to find them through the app as well. This week, the company began testing a directory feature that allows users to browse and contact local stores and services on WhatsApp. The tool is currently only available in São Paulo, Brazil, but a screenshot shared by Will CathcartWhatsApp manager, shows you can use the feature to sort businesses by category and how close they are to you.

Matt Idema, vice president of business messaging at Facebook, said Reuters the test concerns “thousands” of businesses and services. He added that the company is likely to make the feature available in India and Indonesia next. “Based on feedback from people who have tried it over the next few months, we will consider expanding this service to other cities and other types of businesses available on WhatsApp,” Cathcart said separately on Twitter.

Although best known as an app that you use to chat with friends and family, WhatsApp has increasingly established itself in the e-commerce space. Since 2018, it has offered a separate app that businesses can use to communicate with their customers. More recently, it has been pushing hard to allow people to shop directly from WhatsApp. Sometimes that hasn’t always worked out for the company, as it did when it changed its privacy policy earlier in the year. On that note, Cathcart said WhatsApp will not save a user’s location or the businesses they browse while using the directory feature.

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