• There are dozens of brands that are testing WhatsApp’s business messaging platform including Uber and Netflix, according to a report by TechCrunch. Other early testers include Singapore Airlines, KLM, Melia Hotels and Booking.com.
• The new API (application program interface) was first announced in August. It allows companies to respond to messages from WhatsApp users freely for the first 24 hours. After that, they are charged per message. To access the API, businesses need to complete an application even though the company says that it is not limiting any approvals either by volume of message or region. There are a couple of third-party providers who give access to the API including VoiceSage, Nexmo, Twilio, and Infobip.
• WhatsApp will earn from the API, which will function as a replacement for the subscription fee. Businesses will also be able to place advertisements on Facebook NewsFeed such that a user can click on the ad to open a WhatsApp message.
There are more than 1.5 billion people all over the world who report using WhatsApp for everyday communications. The app has grown to become one of the most popular messaging apps in the world of all properties owned by Facebook including Messenger. The huge user base gives WhatsApp a unique advantage and potential to work as a communications platform between the customer and businesses. The WhatsApp business API targets large businesses that will get a huge volume of customer messages. However, a business of any size can apply to get access to similar capabilities as the big business. This move may make the platform more attractive to businesses compared to other messaging platforms.
The move to develop WhatsApp into a platform for marketing has been slowly coming. The founders of the platform have previously resisted the idea of selling ads, voicing concerns related to user privacy. The company has also put in place measures towards the same including end-to-end encryption and deleting messages from servers after they are sent. When Facebook bought the platform in 2014, the pressures were not as high as they are now. The app will need to be monetized, no wonder the business API.
Facebook and WhatsApp are also facing growing competition from businesses such as Apple. Apple wants to have iPhone users use their apps, which generates the company revenue. In 2017, the Business Chat was introduced quietly. The feature enables users to find businesses using Safari, Siri, Search or Maps. They also get an option to get in touch with the business or to buy something via Apple Pay; all this, without leaving the App. Companies, including Marriott, Discover, Hilton, and Home Depot were among the first testers of the feature that was released in April alongside the iOS 11.3 update. In July, the company also added American Express, Four Seasons, and Aramark Dish to the lineup for the Business Chat. If not anything else, this move signals growth and potential for other major brands.