WhatsApp users can now search for and message businesses directly

WhatsApp users in the UK can now search the app for businesses 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 being rolled out in a select few countries, is part of plans to enable users to do more things from within 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 could use the tool to change a flight or hotel booking or get more details about an upcoming sale.

“People want a convenient way to quickly get assistance 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 right on WhatsApp so people can now browse businesses by category – such as travel or banking – or search by the business name.

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

“We’ve built business search in a way that preserves people’s privacy. What you search for is processed in a way that cannot be linked back to your account.”

WhatsApp said it ultimately wanted its users to be able to “make a secure payment right 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 it so you can find, message and buy from a business all in the same WhatsApp chat.”