WhatsApp to start charging business users

Judy Cobb
August 2, 2018

Now, businesses will be able to craft Facebook ads that link out to WhatsApp chat interface so if customers like a particular Facebook ad, they can more easily message the company responsible for the advertisement.

"We're introducing a solution for businesses that require more powerful tools to chat on WhatsApp and a new way for people to quickly start a WhatsApp conversation from an ad on Facebook", the leading social network said in an online post.

They can respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours, but will be charged a fixed rate by country for messages sent after that. Tardy responses by businesses will incur costs. The monetization plans are similar to what Facebook has done with Instagram's Stories feature, in that the ads displayed on WhatsApp's status feature "will be powered by Facebook's advertising system", the Journal noted.

Facebook paid $19bn to buy WhatsApp in 2014 and there has always been speculation about how Facebook meant to make money from it. WhatsApp announced earlier in 2018 that the platform had 1.5bn users.

"You will continue to have full control over the messages you receive", Facebook promised WhatsApp users.

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In return, the businesses will pay a fee for a confirmed delivery. Even late messages sent by businesses through this app will remain free.

WhatsApp is still only working with a relatively small group of companies, but it says it plans to bring more larger organizations onboard in the future.

Facebook's latest earnings frightened investors who were concerned over its slowing user growth rate in key markets like the USA and Canada. Profits will also likely be hit by costly investments to address the problems.

Sentiment was also dented by the downcast outlook for Facebook, which signaled it expects slower user growth, partly due to the effect of data privacy scandals.

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