WhatsApp to start charging business users

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In an effort to monetise its popular messaging app, WhatsApp is launching its first enterprise product which will allow businesses to respond to messages from users for free for 24 hours but will charge them for any replies sent afterwards.

The WhatsApp Business API will follow the same rules as the traditional app meaning companies can only message users who contacted them first. However, the new offering will help businesses send not only messages but also shipping confirmations, appointment reminders and event tickets to customers.

Clients will be able to manually respond to customer service inquiries using either their own tools or apps such as Twilio, Zendesk and MessageBird. Small businesses that are already using the WhatsApp For Business app will still be able to use it to send late replies for free individually. 

WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19bn back in 2014 and it is about time the messaging platform figured out a way to monetise its services. The new Business API could end up being a cheaper alternative to customer service call centres and by only charging for slow replies after 24 hours, it encourages companies to respond to customer requests on the platform quickly. 

WhatsApp could end up changing the way it charges businesses but for now, this is a great way to encourage companies to use its platform over the competition.

The company first announced that it would eventually charge for enterprise services last September with the launch of the free WhatsApp For Business app.

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