Facebook is expanding the capabilities of its WhatsApp Business messaging app, which the company says now has about 50 million users.
The company said in its announcement of new features that it is making the changes because “people need easy ways to get in touch with businesses to ask questions, get information or find something they might like to buy.”
The company said in its statement that “to help…businesses on the WhatsApp Business API get discovered… we’re introducing new features to start a chat with a business on WhatsApp and see what goods and services they offer.”
One component of the new service will let potential customers start chats with business using QR codes.
Facebook said in its statement, “QR codes make starting a chat with a business as easy as possible. Previously when people came across an interesting business, they had to add its WhatsApp number to their contacts, one number at a time. Now, you can just scan the QR code a business displays on its storefront, product packaging or receipt to initiate a chat.”
Facebook said businesses implementing QR codes in their product packaging or tags could make it easy for potential customers to start conversations with businesses’ employees.
Facebook also announced new ways businesses can make it easy for potential customers to find WhatsApp Catalogs, a service the company launched last year.
Today’s Facebook statement reads: “To make it easier for people to discover products, we’re making it possible to share catalogs and individual items as links on websites, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. If people want to share a catalog or item they find with friends or family, they can simply copy the link and send it on WhatsApp or other places as well.”
According to Facebook, 40 million people a month use the Catalogs feature.
Facebook’s announcement comes even as the company suffers headaches in a major market, Brazil, where authorities have erected obstacles to the implementation of the WhatsApp Payments feature.
Facebook said the WhatsApp QR codes will be available globally.