WhatsApp is introducing commercial services as its parent company Meta seeks new revenue.

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More than eight years later agree to buy one of the largest messaging apps in the world, the company formerly known as Facebook has decided to start making money from it.

WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, said on Thursday it was opening up business services for those who want to use the messaging app to power their businesses. It was WhatsApp’s biggest step in making money from the service, which is used by more than a billion people around the world.

The new initiative gives business owners access to the WhatsApp Cloud application programming interface, a way to create a personalized dashboard on top of the WhatsApp software so they can chat with customers and offer customer service more easily.

“This is an important step in helping more businesses connect with people and helping more people message the businesses they want to support – big and small,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO. General of Meta, at an event announcing the new service.

WhatsApp plans to charge users based on the number of conversations they have with customers per day, ranging from a fraction of a penny to more than 10 cents per conversation, depending on the region. It also plans to offer a free tier with limited services for small businesses.

The move is Meta’s strongest signal that it wants to start earning meaningful revenue from WhatsApp, especially as it faces business challenges on multiple fronts. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion, the company’s most expensive acquisition. For years, WhatsApp was free to use while costing Meta hundreds of millions of dollars to run and support.

Now, earning more money has become paramount. Meta advertising activity has been affected by Apple’s changes to the iPhone’s operating system, and the company lost tens of millions of users in Russia after being banned in the country. The war in Ukraine also disrupted some of Meta’s advertising operations.

Additionally, Meta is navigating a delicate transition to becoming a “metaverse” company that provides people with immersive digital experiences. In February, a quarter of the company’s market value was wiped out – more than $230 billion – after a dismal income report.

WhatsApp has always been reluctant to make money from its service. The company’s founders ditched ads on the app, and after trying to charge each user $1 a year to use the service, Facebook executives rejected the idea, deeming it too anemic and difficult. to scale.

In 2018, the founders of WhatsApp were heading for the door. Mr. Zuckerberg announced a plan to assemble all messaging services on the apps he owns – WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. The company made changes that allowed Facebook to collect more information about how people use WhatsApp. WhatsApp maintains none of these changes were used for ad tracking purposes.

Simultaneously, WhatsApp’s reach continued to expand globally, embraced by millions of users in Brazil and South America, as well as the Middle East and much of the European Union. .

Many of them included small and medium businesses that used WhatsApp for free to talk with their customers. But the experience, WhatsApp said, was clunky and sometimes difficult to navigate, and was not designed for enterprise services.

WhatsApp’s new product is said to address these issues and may make it easier for these businesses to communicate with their customers using the app. Cloud hosting storage will also be provided to companies that pay for the Cloud API.

Zuckerberg said more than a billion WhatsApp users connect with businesses through the messaging service every week, and the new product will make things easier for businesses and customers.

“Today, most of us use our feeds to discover interesting content and stay up to date,” Zuckerberg said at the event. “But for deeper levels of interaction, messaging has become the center of our digital lives.”

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