WhatsApp Offers Cloud-Based API to Businesses

In an effort to attract more businesses to the app, Meta is adding free cloud-based application programming interface (API) services to WhatsApp, its messaging platform, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday (May 19).

According to Reuters, Zuckerberg made the announcement at Meta’s “Conversations” event, and said the new tool would mean “any business or developer can easily access our service, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and speed up their response time to customers by using our secure WhatsApp Cloud API hosted by Meta.”

Reuters noted that WhatsApp already has an API, a type of software that lets businesses connect their systems and carry out customer service chats on the platform, which helps bring in revenue for Meta.

Meta said businesses won’t be able to contact people using WhatsApp unless they have requested a message. The company is also planning to offer optional paid features for its specialized small-business-focused app.

These features, which are still under development, will include the option to manage chats across up to 10 devices, along with custom click-to-chat links that businesses can share with customers on their websites.

On Wednesday (May 18), WhatsApp announced it was adding a “Pay” button to help users in India and Brazil send money to other users.

Learn more: WhatsApp Offers Pay Button in Brazil, India

“We’re always working on new ways to unlock the potential of payments on WhatsApp,” said Stephane Kasriel, Meta’s head of commerce and financial technologies. “By adding a Pay button to the contact card on WhatsApp, we hope to make sending payments even more intuitive.”

In December, Uber launched a WhatsApp chatbot and now plans to customize the service for users in and around Delhi before expanding to markets like Brazil, said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Khosrowshahi, speaking at the conference during a session with Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, said a third of the users ordering rides via WhatsApp in India are new customers.

WhatsApp’s move to reach more business customers comes at a time when businesses are increasingly turning to social media to attract customers.

Read more: Data: Nearly Half of Online Marketplace Sellers See Social Media as Hub for Future Growth

PYMNTS research found that 61% of companies we surveyed increased their use of social marketplaces last year, with 68% of larger, multiproduct merchants upping their marketplace use along with 68% of firms that earn more than $100 million annually.