WhatsApp announced on Wednesday that it has started piloting a new business directory in São Paulo, Brazil, that will allow users to find local stores and services through the app. Reuters reported that the test will include thousands of businesses in the city, from different categories such as food and retail.
“This could be … the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of business messaging, said in an interview this week. Idema also said India and Indonesia were good next candidates to expand the feature.
Although WhatsApp is mainly used as a personal messaging application, the number of users who use it for shopping purposes is not small at all. The company reported that as of last October, more than 175 million people worldwide use the app to send messages to a WhatsApp business account every day.
Last November, WhatsApp rolled out a new shopping button globally to ‘’make shopping on WhatsApp even easier’’. Facebook has focused on investing in e-commerce features in all of its products in recent years.In June, Mark Zuckerberg announced new e-commerce features for Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Marketplace.
On the other hand, WhatsApp is the only product that Facebook does not monetize with ads. While Facebook has scrapped the option to display in-app ads on WhatsApp several times over the past years, Idema has not ruled out the possibility of WhatsApp offering in-app ads in the future.
“There’s definitely a route on ads, which is Facebook’s core business model, that over the long term I think in some form or another will be part of the business model for WhatsApp,” he said. According to WhatsApp, around 1 million advertisers currently use Facebook and Instagram’s ‘click to WhatsApp’ ads to send users to the popular messaging app.