WhatsApp has released the long-awaited business version of its application, promising a much better experience for SMBs who want to communicate with customers on the platform.
Facebook bought WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion in 2014, partly as a measure to protect its social network. Facebook immediately scrapped the annual subscription charge in a bid to drive use and promised never to introduce in-app advertising.
This has meant it has searched for alternative ways to monetise its expensive acquisition.
Naturally, there are fears that users might be spammed, but WhatsApp says the existing system of businesses using one smartphone and one number to contact users simply wasn’t sufficient, nor was the absence of any verification system for organisations.
“WhatsApp was built for people and we want to improve the business experience. For example, by making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages, and creating an official presence,” said WhatsApp.
The WhatsApp Business application is free to download and allows businesses to create a profile with a description, email address, location information and links to official websites.
Users will have time saving tools such as quick replies for frequently asked questions, automatic greetings and away messages. There will also be access to message statistics so businesses can review what is working for them.
The app is available in Indonesa, Italy, Mexico, the US and UK from today, with the promise of more countires to come, but is Android-only at the time being.
Silicon has contacted WhatsApp for information about plans for an iOS version and when it might be released.
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