Messaging platform WhatsApp has recently unveiled its plans to create a standalone version of its mobile app designed specifically for businesses to communicate with their customers.
Facebook-owned service WhatsApp announced the proposals in a blog post on Tuesday night. The company stated that its enterprise app would allow large organisations, including banks, airlines and e-commerce sites, to contact customers with custom notifications like delivery confirmations, flight times and other updates.
The platform – WhatsApp Business – is set to be free to small businesses, with a paid-for enterprise version available for larger businesses with a global customer base. This is one way that the tool will generate revenue. Pricing information has not yet been disclosed by the company.
WhatsApp has been enhancing its business-to-consumer capabilities at a steady pace for a while now, and last week it announced that it had developed a business verification system that would see a green badge given to businesses that were confirmed as authenticated business accounts by the platform, in a similar way to Facebook’s grey badge for business pages. This comes after WhatsApp had previously revealed plans to allow companies to contact customers with tailored marketing messages.
As part of its blog post, WhatsApp highlighted that it intends to work alongside business users as part of a pilot programme that will test a number of additional new features and services prior to its wider launch.
WhatsApp’s decision to launch a business-focused platform continues to demonstrate the growing acceptance of businesses using consumer messaging services to interact with their customers. The company stated that it already had a number of small businesses already using the app to interact with their consumer base, although it acknowledged that this kind of interaction and connection is still pretty rudimentary.
Furthermore, the messaging tool is increasingly being used in both small and large businesses as a collaboration tool between staff. Examples of this include staff within the NHS who have been using both WhatsApp and Snapchat to communicate. This shows that employees are ditching the traditional and potentially outdated systems in favour of modern messaging platforms.
The introduction of messaging tools such as WhatsApp to businesses could pose an initial headache for IT admins as these platforms are aimed more towards individuals and do not yet have a focus on compliance features or corporate security. However, this is beginning to change – last year, WhatsApp added the ability to add and share documents and PDFs, as well as creating a desktop version of the app.