Facebook Inc. launched a catalogue feature for its WhatsApp messaging app on Thursday, as it looks to establish the service’s e-commerce tools.
After acquiring the app for $19 billion in 2014, Facebook has been looking to boost revenue from the app.
Back in March, Facebook added a shopping feature to its Instagram platform that allowed users to click a ‘checkout’ option on an item tagged for sale, enabling them to pay for it within the app.
Its new WhatApp tool isn’t as sophisticated – for now. But it does allow small businesses to display a ‘mobile storefront’ showcasing their wares with images and prices.
Customers will still need to pay for the item outside of the app.
Speaking at Facebook’s F8 conference in May this year, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said instant payments were in the works for WhatsApp.
“Payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier. I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo,” Zuckerberg said at the conference.
“We’re opening commerce as a new chapter,” WhatsApp product manager Amrit Pal told Reuters. “We hear from businesses every day that WhatsApp is where they meet their customers, rather than sending them to a website.”
WhatsApp’s catalog feature is available for users in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Britain and the United States and will be rolled out around the world in the next few weeks, said the spokesman speaking to Reuters.