Facebook on Thursday said it will finally start charging companies using WhatsApp for Business, as it expanded ways for its users to check out available products and make purchases right from a chat.
Some 50 million businesses and 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day and this move will help WhatsApp continue building a business of its own while it provides and expands free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than 2 billion people.
"We also want to make it easier for businesses to integrate these features into their existing commerce and customer solutions. This will help many small businesses who have been most impacted in this time," WhatsApp said in a statement.
"We will charge business customers for some of the services we offer," it added.
WhatsApp will first add a Shopping button, which went live on Thursday globally, though it will come to India later.
"In the future we'll make it possible to add items to a cart and check out, all within WhatsApp".
The mobile messaging platform said that over the coming months, it plans to expand its partnerships with business solution providers.
"Businesses will also have a new option to manage their WhatsApp messages via hosting services that Facebook plans to offer," the company said.
This will make it easier for small and medium size businesses to get started, sell products, keep their inventory up to date, and quickly respond to messages they receive -- wherever their employees are.
Since launching WhatsApp Business in 2018, millions of people and businesses have found it to be a great way to get in touch and find something they might like to buy.
In India, 81 per cent of adults agreed that messaging (via chat app, text) is a quick and easy way to communicate with a business.
Nearly 77 per cent of adults in India agreed that they "want to be able to communicate with businesses in the same way that I communicate with friends/family through messaging (via chat app, text)."
Globally, 80 per cent of international adults agreed "messaging is a quick and easy way to communicate with a business."