With 1.3 billion monthly active users on board, WhatsApp wants to make its platform more user friendly for small businesses which rely on it to communicate with their customers. The Facebook-owned company has finally released its WhatsApp for Business app which can help businesses engage with a large number of users more easily. The app is already up on the Google Play Store in the US, the UK, Italy, Indonesia and Mexico and will be available in India in a few weeks’ time. It is free to download and access as of now, but WhatsApp reportedly intends to monetise it with a subscription fee or advertisements later.

India accounts for 16% of that user base with 200 million active users, as per Statista. WhatsApp claims, 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil are already using their existing app to connect with their customers and expand their business.

With WhatsApp for Business, the company has tweaked the interface and added a bunch of new features which will allow small businesses to furnish more details about themselves and respond faster to their customers.

It provides businesses to create a business profile with more detailed information about what they do and sell along with their address, website and contact number. Customers can reach out to them through messages or calls. The app also provides businesses with some smart messaging tools such as quick replies, which are a bunch of custom messages prepared by them in advance and can be used to provide quick answer to frequently asked questions. This will allow them to address queries from multiple users in less time.

Businesses can also create greeting messages announcing special offers or deals during festivals. If business owners are unable to answer a customer query due to some emergency or extra workload, the app provides them the option to send a message by default, so the customer won’t feel ignored.

The statistics section in the app can help businesses identify messages get more traction.

The new app is only for businesses. Individual users do not have to download it to connect to a small business. A business account after being confirmed by WhatsApp, will be highlighted with an icon, so people would know that they are chatting up with a verified merchant. They can also block a merchant in the same manner they can block an individual user on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is reportedly working on bringing the option to make UPI payment to its users and is having talks with various Indian banks and NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India). When it rolls out, customers will be able to pay merchants from within WhatsApp and the money will be directly sent to their bank account.

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