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WhatsApp introduces dedicated business app

Tim Maytom

Facebook-owned OTT messaging app WhatsApp has introduced a new dedicated app aimed at small businesses that will provide users with messaging tools and the ability to chat directly with consumers.

WhatsApp Business is launching as a free-to-download Android app in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and US, with plans for a worldwide release in the coming weeks. There's been no confirmation of whether or not an iOS version of the app is being produced.

The app will provide users with business profiles that include information such as website, email and address, as well as messaging tools including quick replies, away messages and greetings "that introduce customers to your business".

Business users will also be able to access a limited analytics tool for their messaging, reviewing things like the number of messages received and read. Other WhatsApp users will see business users listed as Business Accounts, with Confirmed Accounts set to be introduced for businesses once WhatsApp can verify that the account phone number matches the business phone number. That step is similar to the green verification badges WhatsApp added to selected business accounts on the standard app last year.

Consumers using the standard versiono of WhatsApp will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block numbers, including businesses, and report them as spam.

According to WhatsApp, over 80 per cent of small businesses in India and Brazil say that WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business. The WhatsApp Business app is designed to make it easier for consumers to connect with the companies they are interested in, and vice versa.