WhatsApp moving forward with monetizable business features

WhatsApp is killing free access to its platform for business users

Facebook Inc (FB) Kicks Off WhatsApp Monetization By Targeting Businesses

Facebook-owned WhatsApp first announced plans to launch services that connect businesses and customers more than a year ago, and testing of the tools reportedly began this spring.

The new tools, which help businesses from local bakeries to global airlines talk to customers over the app, reflect a different approach to monetization than other Facebook products, which rely on advertising.

Facebook has not focused on WhatsApp so far.

WhatsApp has confirmed that it is testing a new business app as well aimed at enterprise solutions.

The announcement comes just days after it emerged that WhatsApp was introducing verified accounts for some business users.

Reuters had reported in March that a potential revenue source for WhatsApp was to charge businesses that want to contact customers, citing company documents.

Both the app and the new verification system come after research by WhatsApp found that people wanted a way to ensure that the businesses they speak to are genuine.

"We don't have the details of monetization figured out", Matt Idema, WhatsApp's chief operating officer, told the Journal.

Tools for businesses will target a range of needs, for small and large enterprises, giving them an official presence on the platform and easier ways to communicate with customers. Third, WhatsApp Business will help manage consumer chats.

With WhatsApp's impending digital payments foray in India, we are also curious on what role would payments play in the tools that the messaging app is developing for businesses.

"We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses and for them to get the responses that they want", Idema said.

The strategy is similar to how Facebook monetizes the news feed and Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing app it bought for $1 billion in 2012. Globally, the trials included Dutch airline KLM and Itau Bank in Brazil.

"That's part of the reason why we are spending a lot of time there to understand what people and businesses want from WhatsApp".

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