WhatsApp is making it easier for businesses to connect to consumers. The global messaging app has rolled out a new pilot scheme that lets businesses create their own verified accounts to allow consumers to get in touch.
It sounds like parent Facebook is expanding what it has already tested on its Messenger app. The company rolled out bots for businesses on Messenger back in April 2016.
Originally, Mark Zuckerberg had stated that WhatsApp would not be monetised until it hit the one billion monthly active user mark. Well, WhatsApp reached those targets back in February 2016 and is now reaching a billion active users a day.
Indeed, in a previous earnings call, Zuckerberg did hint at rolling out a monetisation strategy for WhatsApp:
“We’re also working to build a business ecosystem around Messenger and WhatsApp. Messenger and WhatsApp both have large communitiies, and they’re growing quickly, with 1bn people now using WhatsApp daily. It is still early on the monetisation side here.”
It perhaps is unsurprising then that Facebook wants to utilise such a huge audience and start to monetise the app.
Although not much is known as of right now, an entry in WhatsApp’s frequently asked questions reveals that businesses can now apply to join the pilot programme. It reads:
WhatsApp is exploring ways for you to communicate with the businesses that matter to you. Some business accounts have been verified by WhatsApp. If you see a green badge next to a contact’s name, it means that WhatsApp has confirmed that the phone number of this contact belongs to a business account. WhatsApp will also let you know when you start talking to a business via yellow messages inside a chat. There is no way to delete these messages from the chat.
In addition, users can block business accounts on WhatsApp to stop them from contacting them.
According to a post from WaBetaInfo which is part of the pilot scheme, businesses are also able to set up business hours and automated responses.