WhatsApp has announced plans to launch a new pay-to-use tool for businesses to communicate with their customers.
The new platform will enable companies to provide information and services, such as delivery dates or boarding passes, to customers, while the messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country. The new fee is for businesses as users will still be able to chat with friends free of charge.
According to Reuters, the Facebook-owned messaging application, WhatsApp currently has around 1.5 billion users and Facebook has been looking for ways to monetise its WhatsApp service in the face of rising costs as it spends heavily to improve privacy safeguards and tackles concerns about social media addiction.
According to Facebook:
“Businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and your chats don’t get cluttered, in addition, messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and you can block any business with the tap of a button.”
Recall that Facebook had paid $19 billion to buy WhatsApp in 2014 and there has been growing speculation about how Facebook intended to make money from it. This new move comes three months after WhatsApp’s former boss Jan Koum announced he was quitting the service he had co-founded.
Also, WhatsApp had announced in January that it would start allowing small business accounts to communicate through the WhatsApp Business application, which has over 3 million active users. WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema said then that WhatsApp intends to charge businesses in the future.
Facebook also announced that users on Instagram can now see the amount of time they spend on the app each day and receive notifications when they exceed a self-prescribed threshold. Users also can mute notifications from the apps for up to eight hours.
Many are of the opinion that the new fee on WhatsApp is an attempt by its founders to cash boost the social network platform which recently suffered the biggest one-day price drop in history.