Facebook has begun monetising WhatsApp, the world’s largest instant messaging app it acquired in 2014.
Months after launching WhatsApp for Business, the company on Wednesday announced rolling out a set of new features that help business effectively communicate with consumers, vice versa. The latest update also includes charging businesses for select WhatsApp Business features and interlinking ads on Facebook to WhatsApp.
This new update is in line with the Facebook’s announcement at F8 2018 conference of monetising WhatsApp for Business. Facebook said that it will soon start charging major companies for using the company’s business service. Ever since its launch in January this year, WhatsApp for Business has 3 million brands registered in the service.
What changes users will see
End users can now use WhatsApp Business numbers to seek information such as boarding pass or shipping confirmation from the service providers. To get the information, users may provide their phone numbers to a business on their website to send details via WhatsApp.
One can also seek real-time information and assistance to get an issue resolved from WhatsApp Businesses.
“With this approach, you will continue to have full control over the messages you receive. Businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and your chats don’t get cluttered. In addition, messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and you can block any business with the tap of a button,” said the company in a press note.
Facebook integration: Sort of
In what may be one of the first efforts to interlink Facebook and WhatsApp, the social networking giant said it will allow businesses to run Facebook Ads that link to WhatsApp numbers.
“Facebook Ads that click to WhatsApp help people discover your business, help you engage with them to explain your product or service, and grow a relationship. When a person taps on an Ad that clicks to WhatsApp, they will be transferred to a prefilled WhatsApp chat where they can message your business quickly,” Facebook said.
Under the Ads Manager dashboard, businesses will be able to monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns as well.
Ads that click to WhatsApp will be available in Ads Manager over the coming weeks in most countries around the world.
WhatsApp Business API: How it works
The WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to send messages to users who will initiate chat or makes a request for information. The API also allows businesses to use the API to deliver custom notifications. WhatsApp pointed out that these notifications will be more contextual and non-promotional in nature, for instance, event tickets, appointment reminders and shipping confirmations.
“These messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery. When someone messages your business, you can also use the WhatsApp Business API to respond to questions or comments for free within 24 hours. Any messages sent more than 24 hours after the last customer response will be charged,” said WhatsApp.
WhatsApp added that it had been testing WhatsApp Business API for months and it is now working with over 90 businesses such as MakeMyTrip, Uber and Singapore Airlines.