After plenty of rumours and whispers in the marketplace, WhatsApp are finally making the move towards monetisation with their messaging app, with the delivery of a brand-new “business” version. Interestingly, while this new app will charge large enterprises for their connections, there will be a free option for small-to-midsize businesses who might be watching their budget.
At this stage, there’s not a great deal of information available about what we might expect from the upcoming enterprise solution, but speculation suggests that companies around the world will be able to use their new WhatsApp solution to access easier communication throughout the workforce.
The (Vague) Details
For now, WhatsApp have only announced that they plan on charging businesses in the future, although the details remain cloudy. The company suggested that it wants to give organisations the chance to stay in touch with its customers through notifications, while allowing customers to place orders, and engage in customer service conversations through the app itself.
WhatsApp also announced a close pilot program, where it would begin to use a “green checkmark” to start distinguishing official businesses from fakes and personal accounts. The hope is that this program will help to reduce scams throughout the platform.
Looking Forward to WhatsApp for Business
With about 1 billion people using WhatsApp every day, it makes sense that the company would want to start monetising their service. With the new enterprise solution, WhatsApp suggests that bigger companies will be able to provide customers with useful information like delivery confirmations, flight times, and other important updates.
Obviously, the announcement of “business-first” WhatsApp accounts is sure to raise some concerns among consumers about being spammed by companies whenever they’re on their phone. The good news, is that you can block accounts that bother you by tapping on the menu button and hitting block. What’s more, some businesses on WhatsApp will only be able to contact individuals who have voluntarily given their phone number to the brand, and have agreed to be contacted over WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Business Will be Free to Start
According to WhatsApp, their enterprise messaging solution should be free to begin with, although they do plan on charging businesses in the future. One of the functionalities that the business service will offer include the ability to create verified profiles to help manage consumer chats in a more seamless and integrated mobile environment. Additionally, businesses may be able to manage customer chats by using “away” messages when they’re not available to respond to queries immediately.
Back in 2014, when Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion, they claimed that they would not be placing advertisements in the app, as this would damage the overall user experience. However, after the annual subscription fee idea was also banished, there have been few options left over for WhatsApp to explore when it comes to making money. The introduction of sponsored messages and ads on Facebook Messenger could mean that WhatsApp begins to change its stance on marketing too.
At this stage, it’s hard to know exactly what the Business version of WhatsApp will offer. As one of the biggest tech start-ups in the world, WhatsApp has tripled in size following some incredible management from Facebook. Now, it’s up to WhatsApp to start showing its value to more than just standard consumers.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.