WhatsApp, charging for business use

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WhatsApp no longer free, WhatsApp business becomes paid service while its status feature serves as an advertising platform

It appears that Facebook has decided to capitalize on the world’s biggest online messaging platform, WhatsApp and make it into a paid service. Fret not however if you’re a regular user as WhatsApp Business is where the charges are going to be at.

WhatsApp for Business rolled out it application programme interface (API) on August 1.

WhatsApp for business will start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages and the prices will vary from country to country.

The first 24 hours will be free and charges will start for each message if a company fails to respond to customers after a fixed time period.
As per WhatsApp, each message is reportedly going to cost 0.5 cents to 9 cents.

Since charges will vary from country to country, WhatsApp is expected to keep competition level with standard SMS charges.
Lately, WhatsApp released new features that allow customers to connect with the company easily.

This includes a shortcut button to start a conversation right away, quick troubleshooting mechanisms and now WhatsApp allows business to send you information.

For now businesses will only be able to communicate with users who make contact first.

The app can be used to send notifications such as appointment reminders, shipping confirmations, events tickets and such.

WhatsApp for business currently has more than 3 million users compared to 1.5 billion who use WhatsApp. It was launched in January with the idea of helping small businesses to interact on a more streamlined enterprise platform.

WhatsApp stated that all information between the client and business will remain end to end encrypted.
It is hoped that WhatsApp for business will be a way for Facebook to get more revenue with the social media giant doing badly of late, with a valuation that dropped by USD$120 billion in a single day.
Facebook reported in late July that earnings had taken a downturn and this may be the next step to pick up profits.
In India, as per a report by The Economic Times, the WhatsApp for Business API will be first seen on MakeMyTrip and soon on many other businesses as well.
BookMyShow, RedBus and Kotak Mahindra already have been using the pilot version since September.
WhatsApp will use the WhatsApp status feature for businesses to advertise and promote their products by 2019.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the ads will be powered by Facebook’s native advertising system and will help familiarise users with business on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema said that Facebook is using ads in Instagram stories as a model to serve ads through the WhatsApp status.
“We have seen it working well on Instagram and we are learning a lot from that,” he said.

Serving ads through WhatsApp Status makes sense for Facebook as the feature hit the benchmark 450 million, as highlighted by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 developer conference in May.

Charges for business advertising on the status feature are not yet clear but the user or client will be able to see that it comes from a WhatsApp for business user.

According to the Economic Times report this feature will be made global by 2019.

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