The time has finally come for Facebook to start making money off WhatsApp.
The messaging app will expand its business-focused service in a major way, WhatsApp announced Wednesday.
Since last year, WhatsApp has been testing WhatsApp Business, which lets companies message customers with things like boarding passes, shipping information, and responses to customer service inquiries. But the service is now expanding with a dedicated API for larger companies to start using the tools.
This should make it easier for larger organizations to take advantage of WhatsApp. Companies will now be able send customized notifications to people and run News Feed ads that redirect to WhatsApp chats.
Importantly for Facebook, though, the expansion of WhatsApp Business also expands WhatsApp’s ability to make money off its most popular messaging app. As it stands now, WhatsApp is easily Facebook’s biggest untapped asset. The messaging app has more than 1 billion daily active users, but, unlike every other major Facebook service, has no advertising (for now, anyway).
Which is why WhatsApp is focusing its initial monetization efforts on enterprise services.
Though businesses can use some of the tools for free, WhatsApp will charge companies to send certain types of messages. These include custom notifications, such as those with appointment reminders, as well as delayed responses to incoming messages from customers.
WhatsApp is still only working with a relatively small group of companies, but it says it plans to bring more larger organizations onboard in the future.