25th November 2022
WhatsApp is launching a new business search feature in five markets following a pilot in São Paulo, Brazil and the company is also testing in-chat payments in Brazil in efforts to enable consumers to find, communicate and transact with businesses, all within the messaging app.
At the WhatsApp Business Summit in Brazil, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new update called ‘Business Search’ that allows WhatsApp users to search for businesses by category (such as banking, food, drink, travel) or by name, directly in the app, without having to search for the number elsewhere.
This new feature is currently limited to Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and the UK and businesses signed up to the app’s Business Platform in those markets will appear in the directory. Users in Brazil are getting an expanded version that also indexes small businesses to help them discover local small businesses in their neighbourhoods. Business Directory is only available on Android in Brazil but available on both Android and iOS in the other markets.
Of the new feature, Zuckerberg said; "We want to make it easier for people to do even more on WhatsApp and part of that means building better ways to engage with businesses". He also said that “The ultimate goal here is to make it so you can find, message and buy from a business all in the same WhatsApp chat.”
To that end, Meta is also continuing to try and expand WhatsApp payments. It launched the first end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp in India earlier this year where the app is used by over 550 million users, and increasingly for business, but has been slower to roll out in-app payments elsewhere. A WhatsApp payment to merchant service launched briefly in Brazil in 2020 but was rolled back due to concerns from Brazil’s Central Bank at the time. The payments feature had hung in the balance since, but in this latest announcement the company said it is now testing in-chat secure payments via credit or debit card in Brazil “with multiple payment partners”.
Brazil has the largest WhatsApp user base outside of Asia with around 150 million users, so it is a key market for WhatsApp for testing new business offerings and to try and make in-app payments a success. And if so, will be looking to roll out to more markets in time.
Messaging apps continue to rise in popularity. More people are using them to interact with businesses and they’re becoming more comfortable using them for shopping, a trend Meta continues to tap into. The company introduced the WhatsApp shopping cart feature at the end of 2020 and has reaffirmed its ambition to make the popular messaging app a commerce engine by building capabilities for business discovery, conversations, and transactions in a single platform, to try and create a frictionless commerce experience for users.