WhatsApp started rolling out verified business accounts last week, and the comapny is now detailing its monetization plans. WhatsApp will offer a Business app that makes it easier for businesses to respond to messages, share updates, and more. WhatsApp basically wants to be the app you turn to when you want to place an order with a local bakery or get flight updates from your airline.
As for monetization, WhatsApp will provide its Business app to small-to-medium businesses for free, but will also roll out an "enterprise solution" for bigger companies with a global footprint, like banks, airlines, and e-commerce sites. The latter will be the main source of revenue for the messaging service. From the WhatsApp blog:
Our approach is simple – we want to apply what we've learned helping people connect with each other to helping people connect with businesses that are important to them.
We know businesses have many different needs. For example, they want an official presence – a verified profile so people can identify a business from another person – and an easier way to respond to messages. We're building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks.
These businesses will be able to use our solutions to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates.
We'll be listening carefully to feedback during our test phase and keeping people informed as we make these tools more widely available. It's important that we get this right and are thoughtful about the new experiences we'll provide for businesses and our users.
There's a lot of potential for a service like this in countries like India, where WhatsApp usage is ubiquitous. Over 200 million users — or a fifth of WhatsApp's global userbase — is from India, and the messaging platform is already being used by hundreds of local businesses to interact with their customers.
A ticket booking platform like BookMyShow can now leverage the business features to provide its customers with information on upcoming movies and events, and services like Ola and Uber can use WhatsApp to deliver OTPs.