Facebook-owned WhatsApp is finally going to start making some money with new pay-to-use tools that will let businesses talk to customers.
Via the messaging app, companies will be able to send information about products and services, such as boarding passes and delivery dates, as well as providing real-time support to help resolve issues.
WhatsApp – which Facebook bought for £11bn in 2014 – says users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, and that businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and chats “don’t get cluttered”.
Messages will cost between 0.3p and 7p depending on the country the user is in, with businesses allowed up to 24 hours to respond for free before a charge is imposed.
WhatsApp says messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and that users will be able to block businesses whenever they wish.
The move comes following Facebook’s bombshell second quarter results, which wiped £92bn from its stock market value in one go.
Shares plunged by more than 20% after the social media giant announced its slowest growth in users for over two years, with Facebook expecting its revenue growth to lose speed as users make the most of new options designed to limit advertising, while less profitable overseas markets drive growth.
Facebook claims 2.5 billion people use its apps every month, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
Instagram Stories, which already show ads, is used by around 400 million people, while 450 million use WhatsApp Status.
Around 100 companies have been testing the Status ads feature so far, including Uber and Singapore Airlines, with a full roll-out due next year.