Icons for the WhatsApp Inc. mobile-messaging application WhatsApp and the Facebook Inc. application are displayed in a social media folder on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Facebook Opens WhatsApp To More Businesses, Adds Revenue Stream

Messaging platform WhatsApp is expanding its business services to enable more companies to communicate with customers, and has also opened a whole new way to make money out of it. With WhatsApp business, the Facebook-owned platform wants to charge big businesses that want to reach their customers through its service.

Whatsapp is extending API, or application programming interface, to more businesses that will allow them to send customised notifications with relevant, non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets, it said in a blog post yesterday.

These messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery. Businesses may also provide real-time support on WhatsApp or assist customer in resolving an issue.

Facebook had been looking at ways to monetise the messaging platform which it acquired four years ago for about $19 billion. More than 200 million Indians already use WhatsApp messaging,

WhatsApp will also ensure that businesses reply to questions or comments within 24 hours, as any message sent more than 24 hours after the customer’s response will be charged, the blog said. Customers can also block any message as per choice.

WhatsApp has been piloting the business offering since last September and says is working with more than 90 large businesses globally, including online travel website MakeMytrip, Singapore Airlines, ride hailing app Uber, among others.

Separately, the Indian government is holding up Facebook’s plans for a nationwide launch of its WhatsApp payments service over concerns about how users’ data will be stored, Bloomberg reported last month.

Also read: Tackle Fake News First, Payments Service Can Wait, India Tells WhatsApp