Facebook Plans to Monetize WhatsApp via Verified Business Accounts

Looking to monetize the free online messaging platform which was bought by Facebook in 2014 for a reported $19 billion, WhatsApp announced the global launch of verified business accounts last month.

Verified business accounts were launched on a pilot basis where the participation was limited to a few businesses and now the company is including more businesses to the fold.

The feature isn’t for the general users but only for business accounts on WhatsApp. It is aimed to replace the traditional SMS service and make it easier for businesses and its customers to interact with one another.

According to a Fox Business report, WhatsApp’s COO Matt Idema has confirmed that the company will be charging businesses to make use of certain features available in its business tools on WhatsApp, in the future. Idema declined to comment that when they’ll start charging for their business suite.

Given the huge potential of the messaging service which has more than a billion active users, many businesses will be keen to leverage it to attract potential customers or solve the queries of the existing ones.

Talking to Economic Times, Ideman said, “The capabilities we are offering are free to use. But we do plan to charge businesses in the future. The focus right now is getting businesses on the platform.”

Verified business accounts on WhatsApp was also launched in India with a few businesses like BookMyShow and Ola earlier this month.

Given the huge potential of India, which houses over 200 million of its total user base, WhatsApp will undoubtedly be looking forward to exploring business prospects in the country which will fetch them the much-needed revenue.

Until 2016, WhatsApp used to charge users an annual subscription fee of Rs 55 (or $1) and since the discontinuation of the fee, the company has been looking for avenues to monetize their platform.

By planning to monetize WhatsApp by charging businesses to leverage their service seems like a smart move by the company as users have nothing to complain about as the messaging service will stay free.

By introducing verified business accounts to the fold WhatsApp might be looking to replace the traditional SMS service as a way to confirm things to a user. Per se, in case of BookMyShow, a ticket booking confirmation or in the case of Ola, the OTP pin to confirm the ride.

If a contact appears with a ‘green badge’ next to its name, that means the number has been confirmed by WhatsApp to belong to a business account. This green badge looks similar to the blue tick on Facebook or Twitter.

WhatsApp will indicate a user that they’re talking to business contacts via yellow messages inside a chat. Messages with a verified business account can not be deleted. Users can block a business from contacting them in a similar manner other users can be blocked.

If the phone number associated with the business is already saved in your phone book then it will appear as that name. If the business contact isn’t saved in your phone address book, then the name will appear the same as the business has chosen for themselves.

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