Messaging app, Whatsapp, said on Thursday that it would begin to allow business accounts for the first time, a step that brings the free service closer to a plan that would make money for its corporate parent, Facebook Inc.
A considerable amount of businesses already uses WhatsApp, with 1,3 billion users, to answer inquiries from customers. Business accounts will also allow them to set up automatic greetings, see statistics about their messaging and set up a profile page with hours of operations and all other information, WhatsApp said in a statement.
Matt Idema, WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer said that the accounts are aimed at businesses that receive high volumes of WhatsApp messages and need help keeping up.
“What we saw was a need for businesses to have more efficient tools,” Idema said in an interview.
Idema, former Facebook executive who joined WhatsApp last year said that WhatsApp intends to charge businesses in some form in the future. However, it is too soon to discuss when that would happen or what the future business services would look like.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, which was decided upon according to the size of the user base. WhatsApp used to charge a $1 annual subscription fee; however, this was dropped in 2016; leaving the source without revenue.
Options for revenue are very slim at the moment, CEOs of both Facebook and WhatsApp have ruled out advertising as it is a huge draw card for the service.
WhatsApp said its business accounts would be available beginning on Thursday through a WhatsApp Business application in the Google Play store in Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico and the United States.
The company said that it plans to expand to more countries in the following weeks and eventually develop a version compatible with Apple devices.