WhatsApp has announced some new business tools as the app slowly moves towards monetization – and creating another new revenue stream for parent company Facebook.
From today, businesses will have some new options for connecting with their customers through the tool – businesses will now be able to:
- Request helpful information – When you need a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, you can give your mobile number to a business on their website, on their app, or in their store to send you information on WhatsApp.
- Start a conversation – You may see a click-to-chat button on a website or Facebook ad to quickly message a business.
- Get support – Some businesses may provide real-time support on WhatsApp to answer questions about their products or help you resolve an issue.
The functions are much the same as those available through Facebook Messenger, and it makes sense for WhatsApp to evolve along the same lines.
But here’s the kicker, and where WhatsApp will diverge from Messenger’s path – in an effort to maintain a level of control over business messaging, and to generate revenue from its business tools, WhatsApp will allow businesses respond to messages from users’ messages for free for up to 24 hours, but will then charge them per message sent after that.
The charges per message will not be huge – TechCrunch reports that the costs will be between half a cent and 9 cents (US) per response. But it will give WhatsApp a means to limit over-messaging from businesses, while, as noted, generating revenue for the app as a result.
On top of this, Facebook’s also adding a new option for businesses to start WhatsApp chats via Facebook News Feed ads.
These are significant moves for WhatsApp, which will likely enable Facebook to generate a lot more income from the messaging giant. If there were concerns about Facebook’s slowdown following its most recent earnings report, investors should take heart. There’s still a lot of potential in The Social Network yet.