PYMNTS Intelligence Banner June 2024

Meta Platforms to Introduce Free AI Chatbots on WhatsApp

WhatsApp to Enable Status Updates Directly From Web Interface

Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, is planning to introduce free artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots on WhatsApp as part of its strategy to monetize messaging apps. This move represents CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s efforts to incorporate AI into Meta’s apps and generate revenue.

Unlike its competitors, Meta is giving away its AI model and chatbot for free. This approach marks a departure from the targeted advertising tools used in Meta’s other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.

In a recent announcement at a conference in Brazil, Meta launched its first AI-driven ad targeting program for businesses on WhatsApp. According to the Wall Street Journal, this marks a significant shift for the encrypted messaging service, which has previously emphasized its privacy credentials and avoided targeted advertising. The new AI tools will leverage user behavior on Facebook and Instagram to deliver messages to customers who are most likely to engage with them. Businesses will now have the opportunity to optimize ad delivery to these receptive users, which is crucial as they are paying for these messages.

Meta has been actively working to monetize WhatsApp, its largest app in terms of daily users. Despite its widespread popularity and the hefty $22 billion acquisition price in 2014, WhatsApp has contributed only a small portion of Meta’s total revenue. To address this, Meta has introduced commerce and payment features on the app, including business messaging tools for customer service and marketing. The new AI chatbot on WhatsApp will allow businesses to outsource their communications to automated tools, streamlining the process of answering common inquiries and providing assistance with tasks like finding catalogs or checking business hours.

Furthermore, Meta announced that it will integrate Brazil’s digital payment method PIX into its WhatsApp payment tool. PIX, developed by the central bank, accounted for approximately 39% of transactions in Brazil last year and offers similar services to WhatsApp payments, including money transfers and purchases from companies. This addition demonstrates Meta’s commitment to expanding its payment services within WhatsApp, following a similar move in India where it started offering payment services from rival providers.