* WhatsApp has launched a new platform called WhatsApp Business.
* Businesses will be provided with tools to help them create verified profiles and manage communication with customers on the new platform
* The new platform is free for now, but WhatsApp intends to charge businesses in the future.
* Regular users will know they are chatting to a verified business through yellow text bubbles as well as through a green check badge.
* Users will also be unable to delete messages exchanged with verified business accounts, forcing them to keep a record of the communication.
WhatsApp now appears ready to separate business from pleasure, as it launched a new platform in a bid to monetise its messaging service. The new platform – WhatsApp Business is aimed at businesses that have thus far connected with customers free of charge on its regular messaging platform.
The Facebook-owned company is planning to give verification badges to businesses as it hopes to add authenticity to the way businesses communicate to customers on its platform. WhatsApp COO, Matt Idema told Fox Business: “We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses and for them to get the responses that they want.” He also added that WhatsApp does intend on “charging businesses” in the future.
Idema also speaking to The Economic Times on a phone interview said: “WhatsApp Business is designed for small businesses and addresses the three challenges of lack of a business profile, managing messages at scale and managing customers at one place.”
WhatsApp in a blog post said: “We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic. In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges, and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp”
So far, business verification has been available to only few businesses that are enrolled on the pilot program, including: Dutch airline KLM and Itau Bank in Brazil. Now, the messaging company will be looking to verify other businesses ahead of a global roll-out. WhatsApp hopes the green check badge will make businesses – ranging from small companies to bigger companies with global base of customers – appear more trustworthy and potentially encourage companies to interact with customers through its new platform.
Unlike regular messages, WhatsApp will let you know if you are talking to a verified business by showing you a yellow text bubble. Also, users will not be able to delete messages exchanged with a verified business account. Users can however still block business accounts as they would any other user.
Although the company has since January 2016 stopped charging its users $0.99 subscription fee, Facebook Inc now appears to wants to start recouping the $19 billion it paid to buy to buy WhatsApp in 2014.
N.B: This article was updated on September 6, 2017, 20:18.
[Featured photo: Álvaro Ibáñez / Flickr]