girl typing phone message on social network whatsapp

In August we posted that WhatsApp is beta testing business accounts with a select number of businesses. Individual users must have a phone number attached to their account and also must opt-in to being contacted by businesses.

As the test continues with companies in Europe, Brazil, India, and Indonesia, which includes KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, small little details are emerging on the future of the business expansion by WhatsApp.

In a FAQ posted online, WhatsApp now defined three different kinds of business accounts:

  • Verified. WhatsApp has verified that an authentic brand owns this account. A verified account has a green checkmark badge in its profile.
  • Confirmed. WhatsApp has confirmed that the phone number of this account matches the phone number for this business. A confirmed account has a gray checkmark badge in its profile.
  • Business account. This account is using the WhatsApp Business app, but hasn’t been confirmed nor verified by WhatsApp. A business account has a gray question mark badge in its profile.

The company also posted that individual users can block business accounts and report them as spam within the chat (open the chat > tap the Menu Button > Report spam or Block).

While there is no defined full release date for WhatsApp business accounts, the fact the company posted this FAQ must indicate that it appears the messaging service is forging ahead and may be even adding more testing accounts.

Since Facebook purchased WhatsApp in 2014, many people have wondered what the social media giant may do with the service. Afterall, Facebook itself has the largest messaging platform today through its 2 billion user base.

And this year, Facebook also launched a beta test to include Facebook Messenger in websites. All of this seems to indicate a bit of a parallel development strategy for both messaging platforms owned by the same company.

WhatsApp to Become an “Enterprise Level” Communications Tool?

While both platforms currently use advertising as a monetization strategy, could WhatsApp move away from this approach and shift toward charging businesses for using the service?

“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. We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”

Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s COO in a Wall Street Journal Interview

klm booking whatsappThe fact that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is part of the test also seems to indicate they must be testing a multiple operator model and the ability to transfer a call or chat to another agent.

Also, the KLM website seems to indicate other integrations such as boarding passes, flight status updates, and other airline specific features.

This seems to point to an API integration level far more advanced than just a communications tool.

One could envision a lot of exciting API integrations for eCommerce such as package tracking and order updates.

In contrast, the Facebook Messenger Business communications tool appears to focus on integrating the Facebook experience more deeply with businesses.

In the Facebook business messenger, there is a greater emphasis on chat portability between devices, something that is probably not really as important for WhatsApp as most users probably only use the mobile app.

2018 should be an exciting time for digital communications with Facebook’s two competing messaging platforms further embracing businesses.

Where do you think these two platforms are headed? Would you implement either one on your website and are you willing to pay a nominal fee for more features? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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