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WhatsApp, which is one of the world’s most popular messaging applications - has finally announced a strategy for the monetization of its service in an effort to address issues regarding its ‘sustainability’. Concerns have long been raised over its sustainability, but now the application which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion has revealed its plans.
WhatsApp published a blog post in which it outlined its plans to launch a new innovative service that specifically targets large businesses, with green tick verification badges and a host of other communications tools. In addition to this, it also plans to introduce a ‘free app’ for SME’s.
A spokesperson for the messaging platform said, “Over a billion people use WhatsApp every day to stay connected with their family and friends, and over time, more people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about too.”
Analysts have claimed that WhatsApp have identified a gaping hole in the market for businesses all over the world, especially those located in Asia, where the platform is a staple, use the service as a free way of connecting merchants and consumers. On the company’s blog post it highlighted information gathered from a survey it conducted, which indicated that users prefer when businesses use WhatsApp as it makes them feel more comfortable buying from a retailer that establishes a connection between the invisible sides of a digital transaction.
The blog post added, “We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic.”
The issue of monetization has always been an issue for technology products as companies have to engage in an education process in order to convince users to get past the notion that digital services are ephemeral enough to not warrant a cost. That’s fine, but tech firms have overheads and employees to pay, which makes it extremely challenging in the sense that one of the biggest problems in the industry are its most integral.
WhatsApp COO, Matt Idema confirmed that the firm does plan on introducing fees for businesses, but claimed that he didn’t yet have the details of what services would be monetized. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said: “We do intend on charging businesses in the future. Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.”
The COO also disclosed that WhatsApp will commence tests on tools that enable users to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. This could for example allow you to communicate with financial institutions such as a bank over a recent transaction which you believe to be fraudulent - or with an airline over a cancellation or a delay.
WhatsApp continues to appear reluctant to want to go down the advertising route, which is in stark contrast to its parent company, Facebook, whose entire business is funded by huge advertising revenues. Facebook began introducing sponsored posts in its Messenger app in July of this year as it seeks new ways to engage users of its messaging service with advertising clients. However, it’s plain to see that Facebook is now pushing for WhatsApp to make its acquisition worthwhile.