WhatsApp has outlined plans for a new business version of its messaging platform that will make it easier to contact customers – and generate revenue for owners Facebook.
The company 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. Reports earlier this year suggested it had started testing a business messaging system with startups and surveying users to see how they would feel about businesses contacting them.
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.
Under the proposals, verified accounts will appear with a green tick next to their name, and users will be able to block any business from contacting them.
“In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges, and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp,” said WhatsApp. “Our approach is simple – we want to apply what we’ve learned helping people connect with each other to helping people connect with businesses that are important to them.
“We’re building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks. These businesses will be able to use our solutions to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates.”
WhatsApp has more than one billion users and Facebook has introduced a number of features since the takeover, most notably voice calls and file sharing. However there have been controversies.
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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