In December we noticed a few small changes to WhatsApp where the company explained specific levels of business accounts.

Last year the popular chat tool, owned by Facebook, entered beta with select companies to test new features to benefit business users. Among the early beta companies involved was KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines.

WhatsApp already had a large following among small businesses that used its core function to communicate with customers around the globe. WhatsApp Business expands the core function to add features useful for business applications.

In time, WhatsApp Business is going to add more functionality to allow businesses integrations into other services. It is even possible that once the API is publicly documented, there could be an ecosystem of business tool development by third-party developers.

For example, glimpses of a custom integration already exist in KLM’s use of WhatsApp Business. The airlines uses automated flight notifications and even serves up a boarding pass through the app.

Source: KLM

Early Days

While the company continues to test with larger enterprise customers advanced features, it now released the first official version of WhatsApp Business.

WhatsApp Business includes new features specific for business users. From the companies release, here are the details of the first non-beta of the app.

  • Business Profiles: Help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
  • Messaging Tools: Save time with smart messaging tools — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy.
  • Messaging Statistics: Review simple metrics like the number of messages read to see what’s working.
  • WhatsApp Web: Send and receive messages with WhatsApp Business on your desktop.
  • Account Type: People will know that they’re talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number.

Regular users of WhatsApp won’t have to do anything or download another app to communicate with a business.

The communications engagement looks and feels the same on their end, except they will be communicating with a business user on the new WhatsApp Business app or the web.

Users also maintain privacy controls that allow them to block users, numbers, and report spam to the company.

Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil say WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business today (Source: Morning Consult study). And WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way.

WhatsApp Blob Post

This first release rolled out on Google Play in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the U.S. Other markets will follow in a few weeks. No word yet on when an IOs version for WhatsApp Business will become available.

Most observers believe this will become WhatsApp’s first venture into monetizing the messaging and communications service.

Unlike Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp never seemed keen on selling advertising, so it is believed they always looked at some form of subscription model for revenue.

At launch, WhatsApp Business is free. But future versions with additional business features are likely going to be part of a subscription model.

We’d love your thoughts about WhatsApp and where do you think they are taking the communications platform. Drop us a line in the comments section below.

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