WhatsApp is now open for business(es).
The Facebook-owned chat platform just announced that it will test some new features designed specifically for business-to-customer messaging, following up on the rumors that it would expand on its offerings.
The new features include the closed pilot of a new WhatsApp verification program, which tags corporate accounts with green check marks just like Facebook’s verified business Pages, and a whole new WhatsApp Business app.
The Business app will launch for free as a means for WhatsApp to test out its new initiatives with small companies, but it’s not clear exactly what types of services it will offer outside of general customer service communications.
WhatsApp is also planning on launching an “enterprise solution” for large companies with international presences (think big banks, airlines, etc.) so they can better connect with their customer bases for direct updates on statements, delivery confirmations, and other communications.
Importantly, the service will give WhatsApp another opportunity to monetize, which has been a challenge for the messaging-heavy platform since it was acquired by Facebook. Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal that WhatsApp will charge a fee for the enterprise solution, but admitted that “We don’t have the details of monetization figured out.”
WhatsApp, with its daily user base of over a billion people, could become an integral point in customer service initiatives, especially in areas where it’s already being used for that purpose. The new Business features might mean that corporate accounts will start sliding into your DMs — but it was inevitable for the platform to bring in some money on its own.