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WhatsApp unveils plans for business app

WhatsApp has announced expansion plans, including a free business app for small firms and an enterprise solution for bigger companies.

In a blog on its website, WhatsApp said: “In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that … make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp. Our approach is simple - we want to apply what we’ve learned helping people connect with each other to helping people connect with businesses that are important to them.

“We’re building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, ecommerce sites and banks.”

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, is a free app that is already used by over one billion people to stay in touch with friends and family. In the blog, WhatsApp said: “More people are using the app to communicate with businesses they care about too ... many connections are already taking place every day, whether it’s someone placing an order with a local bakery or looking at new styles from a clothing store.”

Now, WhatApp is exploring ways to monetise some of its messaging services. Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal: “We do intend on charging businesses in the future. We don’t have the details of monetisation figured out.”

According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp began testing veified accounts for businesses a week ago. Details of the functionality of the new business tools are yet to be announced but WhatsApp has indicated that it wants to offer businesses the chance to take orders using the app.

The company said: “Whether someone is communicating with a business around the corner or around the globe, people expect WhatsApp to be fast, reliable and secure. We’ll be listening carefully to feedback during our test phase and keeping people informed as we make these tools more widely available.”