Facebook, the world’s number one social media company valuing at over 300 billion dollars acquired Whatsapp as its biggest acquisition on February 19, 2014, for a whopping 19 billion dollars. Whatsapp at that point in time had no source of monetization but this is about to change after 3 years since Facebook overtook the popular messaging service.
Whatsapp initially charged iOS users a mere dollar as an app purchase from the App Store back in 2009. The app has always been free for Android users, however, the company did notify its users that it would charge a monthly fee to keep its servers running but that too was trashed. Fast forwarding to 2017, the messaging application has still maintained its free of charge usage policy.
Facebook is finally looking to monetize the app but that shouldn’t be a problem for end users like you and I. The company is looking to mint some money out of its popular messaging application by selling verified business accounts to companies that can use it to interact with their customers. In a blog post, Whatsapp has stated that they are currently testing new features that will make it easier for people to communicate with businesses they want to reach through the app.
Similar to other social networking sites, Whatsapp will also show a verified badge next to businesses that have verified their credentials and are looking to opt for the service. Matt Idema, COO, WhatsApp Inc. told Wall Street Journal in an interview, “We do intend on charging businesses in the future.” This is an interesting move and a possible milestone for the company.
Whatsapp has made several claims regarding their end-to-end encryption which states that information sent through the app remains confidential to everyone apart from the chat participants. This, however, has been debated over multiple times and it is likely for you to see an advertisement pop-up closely relevant to what you were possibly chatting about. How did this happen you might wonder and what other sorts of information are being shared through the app could be pretty scary.
This could be a shady way Facebook might be making money from, however, legally charging businesses for a service sounds absolutely fine and totally justified!
Idema denied how they intend to put a fee to this service and stated that, “We don’t have the details of monetization figured out.” Also on the blog, WhatsApp said, “We’ll be listening carefully to feedback during our test phase and keeping people informed as we make these tools more widely available.” This serves as a cue that the service is around the bend and we should see it out in full swing soon enough.
Among the first companies to feature a verified account in India are BookMyShow, Ola Cabs, and Oyo Rooms. As of now, this service is only limited to these companies as Whatsapp beta tests the service and we should see more brands onboarding the Business account feature soon. The company has stated that it is making the feature for global companies that have a large user base; companies like airlines, banks and e-commerce sites.
This feature could prove very handy and would save us the hassle of looking for that chat box on the website or trying to get hold of an actual human to speak to through the customer service helpline. WhatsApp business accounts will show up with the name you have the contact saved as or the brand’s name if you haven’t, making it so much easier to use.
Are you excited about this feature and do you think this is a step in the right direction for companies to enhance their customer support? Do let us know your views in the comments section below.