Last week, WhatsApp announced its first revenue-generating enterprise product. They unveiled a WhatsApp Business API to let businesses respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours, but will charge them a fixed rate by country per message sent after that.
WhatsApp said on their official blog, “As we announced last year, WhatsApp is building new tools to help people and businesses communicate with each other. Since we launched the WhatsApp Business app people have told us that it’s quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail. Today we are expanding our support for businesses that need more powerful tools to communicate with their customers.”
Here’s how people can connect with a business:
- Request helpful information: When you need a shipping confirmation or boarding pass, you can give your mobile number to a business on their website, on their app, or in their store to send you information on WhatsApp.
- Start a conversation: You may see a click-to-chat button on a website or Facebook ad to quickly message a business. (see image below)
- Get support: Some businesses may provide real-time support on WhatsApp to answer questions about their products or help you resolve an issue.
As Techcrunch reported, “Right now, WhatsApp is only charging for slow replies after 24 hours since a user’s last message is a genius way to create a growth feedback loop. If users get quick answers via WhatsApp, they’ll prefer it to other channels.”
Now, as part of this new API, it is important to note there is no broad automation, meaning WhatsApp has not released its chatbot API just yet.