WhatsApp reveals new business app in bid to monetize

WhatsApp is hoping to make money by moving into the customer support business.

The company has officially announced two business tools including a standalone WhatsApp Business app and will soon charge companies - from local shops to global airlines - to use some of the tools' new features.

It will allow customer to communicate with firms via WhatsApp messages instead of email or phone calls.  

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WhatsApp has officially announced two business tools including a standalone WhatsApp Business app and will soon charge companies - from local shops to global airlines - to use some of the tools' new features

WhatsApp has officially announced two business tools including a standalone WhatsApp Business app and will soon charge companies - from local shops to global airlines - to use some of the tools' new features

BUSINESSES ON WHATSAPP 

WhatsApp has announced two new tools for business.

One - a spinoff app called WhatsApp for Business - will allow small business to field customer questions and send them updates.

The company has also unveiled a tool that will let larger companies plug directly into the WhatsApp platform.

While the two business tools announced today are free, WhatsApp will soon start charging companies to use some of their features. 

WhatsApp is also now verifying businesses on the platform.

Facebook is rolling this out as an attempt to finally monetize and earn back some of the $22 billion it spent acquiring WhatsApp three years ago

This comes a week after the company announced it has started verifying companies with green check marks.

'Over 1 billion people use WhatsApp every day to stay connected with their family and friends, and over time, more people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about too,' the blog post announcing the new app reads.

'In fact, many connections are already taking place every day, whether it's someone placing an order with a local bakery or looking at new styles from a clothing store.'

The post goes on to describe how the traditional WhatsApp platform has failed businesses and their customers, citing the difficulties shopkeepers who use the app to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone have faced.

The post also explains the company has gotten feedback from customers who can't tell whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic.

'We're building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks,' according to the blog post. 

'In the coming months, we'll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges, and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp.'

Those features include verification badges, messages that can't be deleted, different color messages, and most likely more that have yet to be announced.

As Facebook rolls out this attempt to finally monetize and earn back some of the $22 billion it spent acquiring WhatsApp three years ago, it will allow small business to field customer questions and send them updates in the new WhatsApp for Business app.

The company has also unveiled a tool that will let larger companies plug directly into the WhatsApp platform.

While the two business tools announced today are free, WhatsApp will soon start charging companies to use some of their features.  

As Facebook rolls out this attempt to finally monetize and earn back some of the $22 billion it spent acquiring WhatsApp three years ago, it will allow small business to field customer questions and send them updates in the new WhatsApp for Business app 

As Facebook rolls out this attempt to finally monetize and earn back some of the $22 billion it spent acquiring WhatsApp three years ago, it will allow small business to field customer questions and send them updates in the new WhatsApp for Business app 

VERIFIED BUSINESSES 

WhatsApp is starting to verify businesses accounts

WhatsApp is starting to verify businesses accounts

The company hopes the green check mark badges will make businesses appear more trustworthy and encourage companies to use the platform to communicate with customers.

When talking with a business account, the message bubbles will be yellow.

Unlike with regular WhatsApp messages where users can delete message, it's not possible to delete messages exchanged with these verified business accounts.  

Users can, however, block business accounts as they would any other user.

Despite the verified status of these accounts, you can still save them in your address book under whatever name you want - the name you save will  be what you see.

'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,' Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal in an interview about the new announcement. 

'We do intend on charging businesses in the future.' 

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

There's no word yet on which features will require payment or when WhatsApp will start charging for their use - Idema declined to specify the paid features or say when they would make their debut, saying 'We don't have the details of monetization figured out.'

So far, companies in Europe, India, Brazil, and Indonesia are testing the free services. 

Indian healthcare startup 1mg - which sells prescription drugs online - has been working with WhatsApp to test the new tool for larger companies.

Co-founder Gaurav Agarwal has said using the app to talk to customers after they've placed their orders has been 'much easier than through SMS or our app.'

He added that the company's fulfillment rate for such orders has nearly doubled since implementing the pilot. 

Another early partner of the new platform is luxury retailer YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP. 

'To date we have made countless sales across WhatsApp, even selling a single item for over £80,000,' Gabriele Tazzari, Director of Research & Development, wrote in a company blog post.

The company has been using the platform to communicate with customers after they make purchases and to gather feedback.

'To evaluate the customers' feedback during this experiment, we directly integrated our new OrderManagement System (OMS) with WhatsApp by using its new Enterprise solution, allowing us to use the messaging service as a notification system for order and shipping confirmations,' Tazzari wrote, adding that less than three percent of customers have unsubscribed from the WhatsApp notifications. 

The company - which uses personal shoppers - has also found another unique way to conduct business on the app. 

Rather than sending customers individual documents and pictures of items like it used to, the personal shoppers

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