WhatsApp users can now search and message businesses directly

WhatsApp users in the UK can now search for businesses in the app and chat with them about their services, parent company Meta has announced.

The update will allow users to search for a business by name with the app rather than having to find a phone number elsewhere.

The company said the feature, which is rolling out in a few select countries, is part of plans to let users do more things from the app.

It is also being introduced in Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico as part of long-term plans to bring “the entire shopping experience directly to a WhatsApp chat”, the company said.

Users can use the tool to change a flight or hotel reservation or get more details about an upcoming sale.

“People want a convenient way to quickly get help from the millions of small businesses and tens of thousands of brands already on WhatsApp,” the messaging giant said in a blog post.

“Today we’re launching the ability to find a business directly on WhatsApp so people can now browse businesses by category – like travel or banking – or search by business name.

“This will save people having to find phone numbers on websites or type a number into their contacts.

“We’ve designed business search in a way that preserves user privacy. What you are looking for is processed in a way that cannot be linked to your account. »

WhatsApp said it ultimately wants its users to be able to “make a secure payment directly from a chat with their credit or debit card”.

Speaking at a WhatsApp Business Summit in Brazil, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg said: “The ultimate goal here is to make sure you can find, message and buy from a business. in the same WhatsApp chat.”

Amanda J. Marsh