Facebook-owned messaging services looks to monetise 1.3 billion-strong user base
WhatsApp rolls out service for businesses
WhatsApp has kicked off the first phase of a new monetisation strategy with the launch of its WhatsApp Business app in the US and four other markets.
The Facebook-owned messaging service, which has around 1.3 billion users worldwide, outlined plans for a chargeable service for large enterprise customers to enable better communication with customers.
The new WhatsApp Business app enables the setup of business profile pages and the sending of quick and automated messages to customers. Business customers can also analyse messaging traffic to measure customer engagement.
"What we saw was a need for businesses to have more efficient tools," WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema said in an interview with Reuters.
WhatsApp has not generated meaningful revenue since dropping a $1 annual subscription fee in 2016. The service’s chief executive and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has ruled out offering advertising on the platform, in contrast to other messaging and social media services, including Facebook-owned Instagram.
Idema, who was a Facebook executive before he joined WhatsApp last year, said WhatsApp intends to charge businesses in some form in the future, but he said it was too soon to discuss when that would happen or what the future business services would look like.
WhatsApp Business, currently available only on Android, went live on Thursday in the US, UK, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico. WhatsApp plans to roll out the service to other markets “in the coming weeks,” it said in an announcement on its website.
An iOS version for iPhone users is also reportedly in the works.
“Over 80 per cent of small businesses in India and Brazil say WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business today,” WhatsApp said on its website, citing a study by Morning Consult.
“WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way.”