Facebook has announced it is making big changes to its enterprise-focused WhatsApp for Business platform.
Going forward, the app, which has around 50 million business customers worldwide, will let users make purchases directly from a chat.
However in order to do so, Facebook will start charging companies to use WhatsApp for Business for the first time through a new tiered pricing system.
“For the last two years, we’ve provided the WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business API to help businesses of all sizes manage their chats. We’ve listened to feedback on what’s worked and believe WhatsApp can help make messaging the best way for consumers and businesses to connect,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.
WhatsApp for Business
WhatsApp said more than 175 million people every day message a WhatsApp Business account, so making it easy to pay directly from a chat was a no-brainer.
“Our research shows people prefer to message a business to get help and they’re more likely to make a purchase when they can do so,” the company said.
It also wants to make it easier for businesses to integrate quick payment features into their existing commerce and customer solutions, which it says will help many small businesses who have been hit by the pandemic.
The move may signal another a step towards a wider rollout of WhatsApp Pay, which ran into problems in Brazil, and has met legal issues in India.
There’s no exact details on exactly which services will be charged, or how much Facebook will be charging. There’s also no information on when the new changes will come into play, with the announcement appearing to act as more of a warning to WhatsApp for Business users.
“We will charge business customers for some of the services we offer, which will help WhatsApp continue building a business of our own while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people,” the company’s blog post explained.