WhatsApp has announced that it is finally set to monetize its platform with a new, paid-for service directed at large-scale businesses.
WhatsApp began trialling its first wave of business tools in India this year, and later announced that it would provide a free app for small to medium companies to engage with consumers on its platform. Now the messaging giant has confirmed that it will begin to monetize its services through charging large businesses for unique communication tools.
The messaging service confirmed that it intends to roll out an enterprise solution which will enable large-scale businesses to deliver useful information to customers – such as flight times or delivery confirmations, among other uses.
Presently, WhatsApp is running a closed pilot program which enables businesses to register and verify on the platform – verified businesses will have a green checkmark next to their name, denoting that the account is neither fake nor a personal profile.
Registered businesses will have the benefit of having their name appear in a consumer’s chat history regardless if their contact details have been saved or not; potential remains for WhatsApp to integrate a search engine capable of yielding a directory of businesses or services. However, businesses will only be able to contact consumers who have provided their phone number and have previously agreed to be contacted.
WhatsApp’s enterprise solution will initially be free, though the messaging firm has confirmed that it will charge businesses for the use of its tools in the near future.
The ramifications of the move at large are substantial; WhatsApp is now the world’s foremost messaging app, attracting over 1.3 billion monthly active users. The service – which was founded on the principle of never displaying advertisements – discarded its $1 USD subscription fee when it was acquired by Facebook in 2014, leaving few monetization options available.
Though numerous businesses worldwide have deployed a WhatsApp presence (through use of a personal profile) to better connect with customers, the service’s new business tools will mark the first occasion in which companies will be able to directly jump on board the platform through a unique corporate account.
What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to using WhatsApp to connect to brands, or would you rather use the service to chat to personal friends, family, or acquaintances? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!