The Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger has finally created a revenue-generating business API, according to a Wednesday blog post. The WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to respond to customers on the platform for free for up to 24 hours, charging a fixed fee for each message after that.
WhatsApp released its free business application last year, but with over 3 million users now, the company appears to have decided to make more of a profit. And with Facebook's recent drop in value, extra revenue probably couldn't hurt. Companies will pay somewhere between half a penny and nine cents for each message, according to the Wall Street Journal.
SEE: Electronic communication policy (Tech Pro Research)
"Since we launched the WhatsApp Business app people have told us that it's quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail," said the WhatsApp blog post.
Through the app, users can request information like a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, message a business quickly through the "click-to chat" button, and receive support from businesses about products or problems, said the post.
WhatsApp emphasizes the safety of its app, maintaining end-to-end encryption on messages and allowing users to block businesses with the click of a button, explained the post. Encryption is a hot topic for the company, as The Washington Post cited security disagreements and weak data encryption as contributing factors to former WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum's departure earlier this year.
Right now, WhatsApp is working directly with a few hundred businesses on the business API, focusing on organizations that specialize in customer communications. The company will bring the feature to more businesses "over a period of time," said the post.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- WhatsApp for Business is adding a revenue-generating API to the app, charging businesses for messages sent after 24 hours of initial contact from a customer.
- The app expedites communication between organizations and consumers, allowing customers to quickly message a company and get support.
Macy Bayern has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.