Facebook Inc is gearing up to make money from WhatsApp, the messaging service used by more than a billion people every day. WhatsApp is hoping to make money by moving into the customer support business.
The company has officially said that two business tools including a standalone WhatsApp Business app and will soon charge companies from local shops to global airlines to use some of the tools’ new features.
The new business tools will allow a customer to communicate with any company via WhatsApp messages instead of email or phone calls.
WhatsApp will also offer a free app to small-to-medium sized businesses, though it hasn’t outlined detailed functionality of the app. The corporate solution will allow global companies “to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”.
“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 know businesses have many different needs. For example, they want an official presence — a verified profile so people can identify a business from another person — and an easier way to respond to messages,” the company said in a statement.
WhatsApp has already started a pilot program that would feature a green badge next to a business contact, indicating that the business was verified by the messaging service.
Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s COO said: “WhatsApp has simplified communication for people around the world. Now, we want to apply this same approach to bringing businesses onto WhatsApp in ways that create value for people. We’re looking forward to making it possible for people to connect with businesses in a fast and personal way, and giving businesses the tools to make that easier to do.”
Responding to emails sent by Techunzipped, WhatsApp said businesses will only be able to contact people who have provided their phone number and agreed to be contacted by the business over WhatsApp.
While the two business tools announced are free, WhatsApp will soon start charging companies to use some of their features.