WhatsApp launched a new feature on Wednesday that allows users to search for businesses within the app for the first time, according to Reuters and The Verge.

The test, which allows WhatsApp users in São Paulo, Brazil, to find shops and services through an app directory, is the latest feature in Facebook's push to boost e-commerce on its services.

"We're building a modern-day Yellow Pages into WhatsApp where you can look up and contact local businesses right inside the app. Launching in São Paulo today, and hopefully more places soon," posted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from his Facebook profile on Wednesday.

Thousands of businesses in categories such as food, retail, and local services will be included in the new test, according to WhatsApp, which will take place in certain So Paulo neighbourhoods, reports Reuters.

Despite the fact that the Facebook-owned messaging service is best known for its person-to-person messaging, e-commerce has become a more important part of its offering in recent years. According to WhatsApp, over 175 million people used the service every day to message a WhatsApp business account as of last October.

WhatsApp has had a standalone app for small businesses since 2018, and it has since been updated to include features such as product catalogues and shopping carts. It has also begun to offer in-app payments in Brazil and India, allowing users to make purchases directly from businesses as well as send money to friends and family.


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