Whatsapp begins rolling out payment service in India

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Image courtesy: The Daily Star

WhatsApp is testing a new business directory in So Paulo, Brazil, that will allow users to locate local stores and services that have a presence on the app, according to the service’s head, Will Cathcart. Screenshots illustrate how WhatsApp would display companies organised by category, such as “grocery shop” and “restaurant,” before allowing users to communicate with them directly. According to Reuters, the test will involve thousands of city companies.

Although the Facebook-owned messaging app is most known for its person-to-person chat capabilities, e-commerce has grown in importance in recent years. As of last October, WhatsApp reported that over 175 million people worldwide used the service on a daily basis to message a WhatsApp business account.

WhatsApp begins testing a yellow pages-style business directory - The Verge

Subsequently 2018, WhatsApp has provided a standalone app for small companies, and it has since added features such as support for product catalogues and shopping carts. It has also begun to provide in-app payments in Brazil and India, allowing users to make direct purchases from companies as well as send money to friends and family.

This e-commerce drive, however, caused issues for WhatsApp when it revised its privacy policy earlier this year. The modifications were widely misinterpreted as allowing WhatsApp to share data from people’s personal chats with Facebook, when in reality they only related to talks with companies, who may see data kept on Facebook servers. The new policy sparked outrage, with WhatsApp rivals Telegram and Signal claiming an increase of new users as a result.

Cathcart stated that when users utilise the new directory function, WhatsApp does not track their location or the companies they visit. WhatsApp, in addition to its app for small companies, provides a WhatsApp Business API to connect larger enterprises with clients. It’s noteworthy since it’s one of the few ways WhatsApp is directly funded, as it doesn’t presently show advertisements like Facebook and Instagram. Although WhatsApp allegedly backed down from its initial intentions to offer in-app advertising last year, Facebook’s vice president of business communications Matt Idema told Reuters that “in the long run,” he expected ads to be a part of WhatsApp’s revenue model “in some form or another.” Although the pilot is now confined to one city in Brazil, Idema stated that India and Indonesia are among the options for future growth.

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