WhatsApp gets Product Catalogs and Account Kit support

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Saurabh Joshi
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Today at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a series of announcements tied to the company’s future vision of more privacy channels for users. Facebook-owned WhatsApp also announced a couple of important updates to its messaging platform at the Facebook F8 Developer Conference. The major announcements included Products Catalog and Account Kit, so it revolved mostly around the Business side of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Product Catalog:

Facebook has been building out business-friendly features in WhatsApp, including the coming introduction of ads. Launched in early 2018, WhatsApp business is primarily directed toward small business owners.

As part of a broader discussion of private messaging, Zuckerberg introduced the WhatsApp Business Catalog. This will be a way for small businesses to showcase products to users interacting with them on WhatsApp. Businesses will now be able to upload images and descriptions of products, though there were few details beyond the announcement itself.

Account Kit:

The next big announcement was the release of the Account Kit SDK(Software Development Kit). Account Kit is a tool that will enable users to register and log into apps effortlessly just by using their phone numbers and email addresses. It will also allow users an alternative to SMS OTPs to login using their phone numbers. With this SDK, app developers will be able to give users an option to choose between the two.

Global payments platform:

Zuckerberg also sees WhatsApp as a global payments platform (like Venmo or its owner PayPal). The combination of products and payments on WhatsApp points to its future as a global “private commerce” platform. Zuckerberg called out small business use cases in particular. “It’s important for all the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence,” he said.

Zuckerberg also believes that private messaging/social communication will become a “primary way” that businesses interact with customers going forward. However, it has yet to materialize on Facebook Messenger.

Apart from these big announcements, WhatsApp also revealed that its peer-to-peer payments service WhatsApp Pay will be coming to other countries in the next few months after its launch in India for a fraction of the 200 million userbase.

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