After providing the service for free since its launch in January this year, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has announced that companies that use its WhatsApp Business app will now have to pay for it. Regular WhatsApp users are still not charged for the instant messaging service. The WhatsApp Business app now comes with new features and support service for small and large businesses.

Businesses will be charged at a fixed rate for sending non-promotional messages like order status, appointment reminder, flight tickets, movies or other events on WhatsApp Business. Besides a large number of small businesses, 90 large companies, including MakeMyTrip and Uber, have already started using the new service.

WhatsApp will charge anywhere between 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country, according to a Reuters report. WhatsApp has not yet announced how much it will be charging in India, but it appears that the charges would not be more than 5-6 per such message.

The trick to save money on WhatsApp Business charges

WhatsApp is providing two ways to set up a business profile on WhatsApp. The first one is the WhatsApp Business app available on Android and iOS. This is typically meant for small businesses. On Google Playtsore there have been over 10 million downloads of the app.

The other one is WhatsApp Business API, which is gradually being rolled out and is not available to everyone. You can sign up for it here.

Once you are registered at the API, you become eligible for a money-saving trick on WhatsApp Business. Whenever your customers ask you something through WhatsApp you can reply using the API within 24 hours and you will not be charged for it. You will be charged only if you send a message after 24 hours of the last message sent by the customer.

“We’re introducing the WhatsApp Business API to help businesses manage communications with existing and potential customers at scale. With the WhatsApp Business API, you can send messages to people who initiate a chat with your business or who request that you send them information via WhatsApp," the social media company said.

How does setting up a business profile on WhatsApp help you?

Besides all the benefits associated with any regular WhatsApp account like talking to your customers and responding to their queries, your business profile on WhatsApp also throws up helpful information for your customers like your address, business description, email address and website.

You can also get a verified profile on WhatsApp which will help your customers distinguish you from fake suppliers. The WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business API help both small companies as well as larger ones like banks, airlines, e-commerce websites, etc. You can send WhatsApp messages not only to pitch new products to your customers but also inform them about the status of their orders. Taking feedback and responding to complaints also becomes easier.

Facebook has long been testing ways to make money from WhatsApp, which it bought in early 2014 in a deal valued at $19 billion.

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