Facebook wants to make money from its WhatsApp messaging app and will do so down the road by charging companies to use some of its business-focused features.
Matt Idema, chief operating officer at WhatsApp, told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that it will charge companies down the road for the free business tools it began testing this summer. The tools are aimed at helping businesses talk to customers over the WhatsApp.
Facebook spent $19 billion in 2014 to buy the messaging app. In the past it has relied on advertising sales for most of its sales, but this would mark a change in that approach. In the interview with the Wall Street Journal the executive wouldn’t say how much the company will charge or when it will begin. “We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses and for them to get the responses that they want,” Idema said. “We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”
In a blog post WhatsApp said that more than 1 billion people use the messaging app to stay in touch with friends and family, but people have started using it to communicate with businesses. That communications, said Facebook is still rudimentary.
“We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic. In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges, and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp.”
One of the new features it is working on is verified profiles so users can tell the difference between a business and an individual.