WhatsApp is piloting a brand new enterprise listing in São Paulo, Brazil that lets customers discover native retailers and providers with a presence on the app, the service’s head Will Cathcart has announced. Screenshots present how WhatsApp will present companies sorted by classes like “grocery store” and “restaurant,” earlier than letting customers chat immediately with them. Reuters reports that the take a look at will embrace hundreds of companies within the metropolis.

Though the Fb-owned messaging service is most well-known as a person-to-person messaging service, e-commerce has turn into an more and more necessary a part of its providing in recent times. As of final October, WhatsApp reported that over 175 million people globally used the service to message a WhatsApp enterprise account every single day.

WhatsApp has supplied a standalone app for small companies since 2018, and since then has added options like assist for product catalogs and buying carts. In Brazil and India, it’s additionally began providing in-app funds, letting customers make purchases directly from businesses, along with sending cash to family and friends.

However this e-commerce push created issues for WhatsApp earlier this yr when it up to date its privateness coverage. The adjustments have been extensively interpreted as giving WhatsApp the flexibility to share knowledge from folks’s private chats with Fb, when in actual fact the adjustments solely utilized to chats with companies, which can see knowledge saved on Fb servers. The brand new coverage generated an outcry, with WhatsApp rivals Telegram and Sign reporting a surge in new customers in response.

Cathcart said WhatsApp is just not logging customers’ location or which companies they browse when utilizing the brand new listing characteristic.

In addition to its app for small companies, WhatsApp additionally presents a WhatsApp Enterprise API to attach bigger companies with clients. It’s notable for being one of many few methods WhatsApp is monetized immediately, because it at present doesn’t present advertisements like Fb and Instagram. Though WhatsApp reportedly backed down from its quick plans to indicate in-app advertisements final yr, Fb’s vice chairman of enterprise messaging Matt Idema instructed Reuters that “over the long term” he expects advertisements to be a part of WhatsApp’s enterprise mannequin “in some form or another.”

Though the pilot is restricted to 1 metropolis in Brazil for now, Idema mentioned that India and Indonesia have been among the many candidates for growth sooner or later.

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