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WhatsApp ‘Tests’ Business Messaging System With Startups

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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WhatsApp is working with Y Combinator to test business messages so Facebook can make some money from its expensive acquisition

WhatsApp is conducting tests with startups to see how businesses would contact consumers using the Facebook-owned messaging platform and how it can generate revenue.

According to Reuters, WhatsApp has been surveying users to see how they feel about businesses contacting them and for what reasons this would be acceptable.

WhatsApp is developing an API and believes alerts for things like fraudulent transactions made using a payment service or a delayed flight. Thanks to a deal with Y Combinator, which provides support to early stage companies, several startups are now reportedly working on early trials.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp business

Silicon has contacted WhatsApp for comment.

The functionality is seen as essential to monetising WhatsApp one billion-strong user base. Facebook bought WhatsApp for more than $19 billion in 2014 but both parties have promised never to introduce in-app advertising, meaning alternative streams of income must be sought.

Instead, Facebook has scrapped the annual subscription fee, added voice calls and launched desktop messaging in a bid to increase use and maximise the value of the acquisition.

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It changed its privacy policy last year to allow businesses to message users, but also so data could be transferred between WhatsApp and its parent company so Facebook could deliver more targeted

This was highly controversial and the practice has been suspended in several countries. In response, Facebook paused the transfer in the UK and across the European Union.

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