WhatsApp Tests ‘Local Business Directory’ Inside the App

WhatsApp has started testing a new feature in São Paulo, Brazil, that allows its users to discover local businesses without having to leave the confines of the popular messaging platform.

Reuters reports that WhatsApp plans to highlight “thousands of businesses in categories like food, retail and local services across certain São Paulo neighborhoods” and that Facebook’s VP of Business Messaging, Matt Idema, says India and Indonesia could get the feature next.

“I’m excited we’re starting to pilot a local business directory within @WhatsApp,” WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart said in a tweet referencing the Reuters report. “This will help you find and contact local businesses, like your neighborhood coffee shop, florist, clothing store and more.”

WhatsApp hasn’t been shy about wanting to appeal more to businesses. It created the WhatsApp Business API to offer “a better way to connect with customers,” for example, and the WhatsApp Business app purportedly “makes it easy to personally connect with your customers, highlight your products and services, and answer their questions throughout their shopping experience.”

But expanding to include more business-to-consumer interactions hasn’t been without its drawbacks. The most contentious move was a change to WhatsApp’s privacy policy meant to allow Facebook to retain information about conversations between companies and consumers.

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Saying the introduction of that new policy went poorly would be an understatement. Many of the platform’s users feared that Facebook wanted to access their private conversations, and even though that wasn’t the case, Germany’s privacy regulator also opposed the new policy. After threatening to limit the account functionality of those who didn’t accept the new privacy policy, backtracked in May.

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