Remember the Yellow Pages? Where those books once served as a valuable resource, they have since been usurped by the internet and Google in particular. That said, there could still be a use for a business directory and WhatsApp wants to be the platform that features it.
To that end the company has announced that it is testing out a pilot for a business directory in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As such, it could serve as a portal to enable greater ecommerce, not only for WhatsApp but the businesses that make use of the platform too.
“This could be … the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of business messaging, told Reuters in an interview.
While the move to integrate more ecommerce solutions into the platform makes sense, such as in-app payments in Brazil and India, the moves will still raise some eyebrows around privacy, as was the case at the beginning of the year.
On that front, Idema says that that WhatsApp will not be logging any data on users while browsing the business directory. That said, it is unclear whether that it just for the Sao Paulo pilot.
There is also the fact that the platform is looking at other ways to monetise it, specifically with advertising, so it remains to be seen how pleasant an experience WhatsApp will be after several additions are made.
For now though, a WhatsApp-based business directory could prove quite useful, especially when data for traditional web browsing is as expensive as it is in countries like ours.
We might have to wait awhile before it lands locally, however, as India and Indonesia have been earmarked as the next two countries for the pilot to expand into.