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WhatsApp Launches Business Directory Feature, Lays Groundwork for In-App Purchases

Meta says eventually it wants to enable people to find, message and buy from a business within WhatsApp chats.

WhatsApp Business Search
WhatsApp's business search option has launched in a handful of markets.
WhatsApp

WhatsApp on Thursday launched a business directory feature in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and the UK, bringing it a step closer to enabling end-to-end purchasing within the messaging app. 

At the WhatsApp Business Summit in Sao Paulo, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled search and directory options that allow users to browse businesses by category or search by name. Meta, which owns WhatsApp, is working with several partners in the country -- including Cielo, Brazil's largest credit card company -- to bring full shopping functionality to the app after regulatory hurdles are cleared.

"The ultimate goal here is to make it so you can find, message and buy from a business all in the same WhatsApp chat," the company said in a statement. 

With more than 120 million active users, Brazil is WhatsApp's second largest market after India, where end-to-end shopping debuted in August in a limited partnership with delivery app JioMart. 

Meta hasn't said if or when shopping options would come to the US, but a spokesperson told CNET the plan is "to bring the experience to more people and businesses across the world in the future."