Nearly a year after announcing that WhatsApp will soon begin charging businesses for features, the messaging service has today introduced WhatsApp Business API. The framework essentially allows enterprises to integrate a WhatsApp option on their websites that will redirect straight to their business profile and respond to inquiries. However, on the plus side, businesses will be only able to message people who contacted them first.
For revenue, WhatsApp is starting slow right now. The company will only charge businesses for a message if they take more than 24 hours to respond. That highlights how WhatsApp is approaching monetization and making sure its forthcoming bigger revenue plans work — it’s urging companies to reply quicker so that people would prefer WhatsApp for customer service inquiries over other channels. In addition, the API will help these businesses share “shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets.”
The API also brings real-time chat support unlike what we have today which is more of a passive automated conversation. Moreover, businesses will be now able to purchase Facebook advertisements which are linked to their WhatsApp profile. What that means is whenever you come across this advertisement, clicking them will directly take you to the already loaded chat on the messaging app. WhatsApp also says that these conversations will remain end-to-end encrypted contradicting a few earlier reports which suggested they won’t be and was claimed to be the reason its CEO, Jan Koum left.
The announcement comes a few days after Facebook revealed it had sustained a revenue plunge of nearly twenty percent. With over 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp’s move into monetization could finally allow the social network to make progress towards paying the hefty fee it paid for acquiring the world’s most popular messaging app. However, how this will affect the usual, simple chatting experience WhatsApp is primarily known for, we don’t know yet. The messaging service itself is going through turbulent times as it continues to struggle with its fake news issues especially in countries like India. It will be interesting to watch how WhatsApp balances these two sides in the coming months.