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Yellow Pages on WhatsApp in India? What we know so far about new feature

This WhatsApp feature that resembles a Yellow Pages directory is called WhatsApp Business Directory.
This WhatsApp feature that resembles a Yellow Pages directory is called WhatsApp Business Directory. (Will Cathcart/ Twitter)

A new WhatsApp feature that is likely to be brought to India is a Yellow Pages-like directory. A WhatsApp exec said that this could be 'the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp.'

WhatsApp is constantly working on adding new features to its platform and reports keep giving us snippets about the messaging apps upcoming features. One such report back in July this year suggested that a WhatsApp feature that was being worked on is like the Yellow Pages directory. This WhatsApp feature is called Business Directory. Now, the top-level executives of the Facebook-owned messaging app have confirmed that the Business Directory feature is indeed being developed by the company and that WhatsApp has already started testing it in Brazil.

To give you a quick overview, WhatsApp’s Business Directory feature will help users quickly find new business accounts on WhatsApp without leaving WhatsApp’s platform. For businesses, this feature will not share phone numbers publicly. When rolled out, this feature will be optional and businesses will need to join the Business Directory to make their accounts visible on a map.

Now, in an interview with Reuters, Facebook's vice president of business messaging Matt Idema has said that WhatsApp has started testing its Business Directory feature in São Paulo, Brazil.

"This could be ... the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp," Idema said. Idema also said that India and Indonesia were good next candidates to expand the feature. WhatsApp’s new Business Directory feature in São Paulo is likely to include thousands of businesses in various categories including food, retail and local services across certain São Paulo neighborhoods.

Shortly after Idema’s interview, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart tweeted details about this feature. “I'm excited we’re starting to pilot a local business directory within @WhatsApp. This will help you find and contact local businesses, like your neighborhood coffee shop, florist, clothing store and more,” he wrote in a tweet.

“We’re kicking this off in São Paulo which is home to millions of small businesses. For those who aren't in São Paulo to try it out, here's what it looks like,” he added in another along with an image that shows the user interface of this feature.

In the same interview, Idema also talked about the possibility of introducing ads in WhatsApp.

"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," the Facebook executive added.

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