WhatsApp’s program for businesses will charge large companies that want to be verified and have access to a suite of automated tools for helping and responding to customers, the Facebook-owned app announced on Tuesday. A free standalone mobile app for small businesses will also offer similar features.
“WhatsApp has simplified communication for people around the world. Now, we want to apply this same approach to bringing businesses onto WhatsApp in ways that create value for people,” WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema said in a statement shared with Business Insider. “We’re looking forward to making it possible for people to connect with businesses in a fast and personal way, and giving businesses the tools to make that easier to do.”
Facebook spent $22 billion on acquiring WhatsApp in 2014. The app used to charge users a $1 per year subscription but dropped the fee in early 2016. WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum has long been a staunch opponent of traditional advertising and has promised that the app will never show ads.