WhatsApp is testing the ‘local business directory’ in the app

WhatsApp has started testing a new feature in São Paulo, Brazil, which 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 such as food, retail and local services in selected neighborhoods of São Paulo” and that the Vice President of Business Messaging of Facebook’s Matt Idema said India and Indonesia could get the next feature.

“I am delighted that we are starting to pilot a directory of local businesses within @WhatsApp“said Will Cathcart, CEO of WhatsApp, in a Tweeter referencing the Reuters report. “It will help you find and connect with local businesses, like your neighborhood cafe, florist, clothing store and more.”

WhatsApp hasn’t been shy about wanting to attract more businesses. He created the WhatsApp Business API to offer “a better way to connect with customers”, for example, and the WhatsApp Business app purportedly “allows you to personally connect with your customers, showcase your products and services and answer their questions throughout their buying experience.”

But the expansion to include more business-to-consumer interactions has not been without its downsides. The most controversial move was a change to WhatsApp’s privacy policy intended to allow Facebook to retain information about conversations between businesses and consumers.

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To say that the introduction of this new policy went badly would be an understatement. Many users of the platform were concerned that Facebook wanted to access their private conversations, and even if that was not the case, the German privacy regulator also objected to the new policy. After threatening to limit account functionality for those who did not agree to the new privacy policy, he backtracked in May.

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