Facebook is starting to look at how it can make money from WhatsApp, beginning with a potential charge for major enterprises.
For the average WhatsApp user, the original proposed charge of €1 per year of use seems long in the memory after years of free instant messaging.
But now, the Facebook-owned service is seeking financial returns on its $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp.
In a blog post, Facebook revealed its plans for rolling out new features to businesses of all sizes including a new, free app that is being aimed at SMEs to connect with their customers.
Where it sees a future source of revenue is in major enterprises through a paid-for service, which will initially be rolled out for free. WhatsApp said the service would be for those operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, such as airlines, e-commerce sites and banks.
“These businesses will be able to use our solutions to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations and other updates,” it said.
Won’t result in cold-calling
Speaking with the The Wall Street Journal, WhatsApp COO Matt Idema said that this move will lay the groundwork for it being able to charge some of its larger customers.
“We want to put a basic foundation in place to allow people to message businesses, and for them to get the responses that they want,” he said. “We do intend on charging businesses in the future.”
Clarifying how it would work for the average user, WhatsApp said to TechCrunch that businesses will not be allowed to cold-call someone – they will only be able to contact those who have provided details to them.
The move would bring WhatsApp closer in line with Facebook’s attempts to monetise its own services, which date as far back as 2013, when it began trialling a priority paid version of Messenger.
This year in particular has seen an increase in activity as Facebook aims to make Messenger friendlier for advertisers, as seen with the launch of a new advert toolkit for developers in April.