WhatsApp to roll out commercial messaging in 2017
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New Delhi: Popular messaging app WhatsApp will focus on rolling out commercial messaging next year for businesses as it looks to tap enterprises for monetizing its platform.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp had said it will stop charging $1 per year subscription fee to go completely free for its users across the world. While WhatsApp maintained that it will not introduce any third-party ads for monetization, it said it will test tools that allows users to communicate with businesses and organizations like banks and airlines through its platform.
“We decided to make WhatsApp free but we also talked about how we will make money. We have been working on ways for businesses to connect with users on WhatsApp... Commercial messaging will be big for us in 2017,” WhatsApp head of business, Neeraj Arora told PTI.
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Another area of focus would be video calling that has been launched, he added. “We hinted towards what kind of conversations that could be, like airlines or credit cards, conversations/interactions that today happen on SMS and emails, we can actually make them better and have them on WhatsApp...We will give control to users,” he said. He added that commercial messaging is expected to roll out next year onwards but declined to provide more details.
India is the biggest market for WhatsApp. Of its over one billion users, about 160 million are here. Other major markets include Latin America and Western Europe. “India is growing at a healthy rate...We have worked hard to ensure that it works for users across networks of different qualities. We support 10 languages in India and we have seen a wide variety of uses across areas like farming, SMBs and community improvements,” Arora said.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has almost become the default messaging application for people in countries like India and Brazil. In India, it competes with the likes of Hike, Viber and Line. The company has now rolled out video calling feature, which puts it in competition with the likes of popular video calling apps like Microsoft’s Skype, Apple’s FaceTime and the recently launched Google’s Duo.
WhatsApp, which has about 200 people, said it is using Facebook’s servers and bandwidth to support the voice and video features. The company had revised its privacy statement in August, under which it said it would share user details like users’ phone number and device details with Facebook. This, it claimed, would help improve service and fight spam, abuse, or infringement activities for users. “Like our other services, the video calls would also be encypted end-to-end. We do not store any of the delivered messages,” Arora said.