WhatsApp Testing Directories for Local Businesses

Search for businesses from inside the app

WhatsApp has announced a limited test run of local business directories, allowing users to search for shops, restaurants, and more straight from the app.

The new feature currently is being tested in São Paulo, Brazil, with plans to include thousands of individual businesses in the area. With entries for everything from retail shops to restaurants and cafes, as well as specialized services.

the WhatsApp logo is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in front of a TV screen displaying the WhatsApp logo on December 10, 2019 in Paris, France

Chesnot / Getty Images

No more phonebook flipping or hoping the business you Googled is the one you're actually looking for and not something completely different with the same name.

As noted by Reuters, Facebook has been attempting to take advantage of the recent online retail boom by adding in-app shopping to many of its services. Searchable local business directories in WhatsApp would likely make it easier and faster for people to find what they need, and give Facebook's e-commerce a boost.

Whether this also leads to WhatsApp adopting in-app ads for monetization—in addition to its current specialized business app—remains to be seen.

Privacy concerns also have been a sticking point with WhatsApp and Facebook as of late, and that extends to the new directory, as well.

WhatsApp has stated that it will not keep track of or store search queries, results, or locations. If true this would help to preserve privacy in the event of (yet another) data breach.

For the moment the test is limited strictly to São Paulo, but could be extended to India and Indonesia at an undetermined point in the future. WhatsApp has not offered an estimate as to when (or even if) the feature will be made available globally.

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