WhatsApp expands in-app features to help users browse and find businesses • TechCrunch

WhatsApp is introducing new Yellow Pages-like features to help users find businesses from the instant messaging app, as part of the Meta-owned platform’s growing attempts to make deeper inroads into commerce electronic.

The encrypted messaging service, used by more than 2 billion users worldwide, said on Thursday it was extending a feature called “Directory” to all users in Brazil’s key foreign market to help them browse and discover local small businesses in their neighborhoods. The nationwide rollout follows WhatsApp testing the directory feature in São Paulo last year.

WhatsApp is also introducing the ability to find larger businesses from within the app. The feature — rolling out in multiple markets (Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and the UK), a spokesperson told TechCrunch — will allow users to browse businesses by category such as banking, food and beverage and trips as well as by their names.

The feature, called “Business Search,” aims to help individuals avoid wasting time looking up business phone numbers on their websites and entering and saving those details to their phone contacts, the company said during a WhatsApp-focused business summit in Brazil.

The new features underscore WhatsApp’s growing attempts to turn the giant messaging app into a commerce engine, one of its biggest bets to generate revenue from the otherwise free service. The company revealed in its quarterly results last month that click-to-WhatsApp ad activity grew 80% year-over-year and was on track to generate $1.5 billion. of annual income.

“We want to make it easier for people to do more on WhatsApp,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the summit. “Part of that is creating better ways to engage with businesses. And although millions of businesses in Brazil use it for chat, we haven’t made it easy to find businesses or buy from them, so people end up having to use workarounds . The ultimate goal here is to make sure you can find, message and buy from a business in the same WhatsApp chat.

Brazil, the most populous country in Latin America, is a key region for WhatsApp. The platform, which has more than 120 million users in Brazil, has chosen the South American market to test several new commercial offers.

Last year, WhatsApp introduced a merchant payment service in Brazil, in what was briefly a world first for WhatsApp. It canceled the feature soon after, after the local central bank said proper risk and regulatory testing needed to be undertaken first.

Brazil’s monetary authority said at the time that its decision would “preserve an adequate competitive environment, guaranteeing the operation of an interchangeable, fast, safe, transparent, open and cheap payment system”.

The crypto messaging platform, which received approval to operate peer-to-peer payments in the country last year, said it was still awaiting regulatory clearance on merchant payments. But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing some development work.

Payments giant Cielo, multinational Fiserv, merchant acquirer Getnet, payment platform Mercado Pago and credit and debit card player Rede have built technical integration with WhatsApp and many of them are participating in the production testing, the Meta-owned unit said.

“If you run a business in Brazil, that means people will be able to find, contact and buy from you in one WhatsApp chat, and we’re also working to bring that experience to more countries in the coming months,” Zuckerberg said. “This is the next step for enterprise messaging and I can’t wait to hear about the opportunities it opens up for all of you.”

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