Meta’s WhatsApp makes Brazil a key test market for business messaging

Nov 17 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms (META.O) said on Thursday its WhatsApp messaging service will launch a business directory and test a payment tool in Brazil, as it bets on business messaging as a potential new revenue stream.

Brazil, one of the app’s largest markets, will be the first country to deploy the new tool outside of a pilot program.

In a blog post, Meta said the directory will allow users to find companies with business messaging accounts on WhatsApp, making it easier to access customer service chat.

Users previously needed to add a phone number to their contacts or click a link on a separate platform to open a chat with a business. The company began testing the catalog in São Paulo last year.

The directory service will be introduced in Indonesia, Mexico and the UK through WhatsApp’s API, which primarily serves large enterprises.

By partnering with local companies, Whatsapp will also test a payment tool that enables in-app transactions using credit or debit cards.

Social media giant WhatsApp, the biggest app in terms of daily users, piloted an end-to-end shopping model with Indian online grocery service JioMart over the summer.

Apart from JioMart, it is currently only possible to send personal payments on WhatsApp, and only in India and Brazil.

Driving business messaging has taken on more urgency this year as Meta’s core advertising business stalls. The company experienced its first-ever annual revenue drop and laid off 11,000 workers last week.

Despite WhatsApp’s popularity and its eye-popping $22 billion acquisition price tag in 2014, it has contributed only a small fraction of Meta’s total revenue so far.

Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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