Facebook looks to begin monetising WhatsApp with business messaging features

Tyrone Stewart

WhatsAppFacebook has confirmed its plans for monetising WhatsApp, after launching a pilot last week that enables businesses to create verified accounts and communicate directly with the chat app’s users.

WhatsApp will eventually charge companies to use the two business tools that it began testing as part of the pilot, though it is not clear what parts of the tools businesses will have to pay for or when they will have to start paying.

“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,” Matt Idema, WhatsApp COO, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”

The free WhatsApp Business app enables small businesses to answer questions from customers or provide them with updates, while the second free tool enables larger companies to sit directly within the WhatsApp platform. These businesses will be verified so that users can tell the difference between them and a normal person, or spam.

The tools are currently being tested in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia. Users in these locations are required to ‘opt in’ to be contacted by businesses.

On top of its initial foray into monetisation with these business features, WhatsApp has yet to rule out the potential to further monetise with ads in its app, but, for the time being, it is solely focused on connecting businesses with its more than 1bn global users.