The world’s largest online messaging platform WhatsApp is a free service and does not even have an annual or monthly fees. The company is moving more towards an advertisement model again, with the launch of ‘Status’ feature for companies to broadcast their content.
However, according to sources at Fortune, WhatsApp is trying to get a feature to let businesses contact consumers and user of the platform. With over 1 billion users on the platform, almost 15% of the world population, it is a very attractive source of acquiring customers.
The company has already started the tests, being conducted with a handful of companies that are part of the Y Combinator startup incubator. This is a proof that WhatsApp is now moving towards a revenue model and plans to rake in some money.
Can it be misused?
Like normal text messaging, this feature also has flaws. Firstly, businesses might not want to pay WhatsApp any amount of fee because the platform is free and businesses can find other options to reach out to such customers. After all, not everyone uses a smartphone in developing nations.
Secondly, it is very difficult to control spam messages on such platforms. WhatsApp will have to keep checking with users if they’re receiving unwanted messages and how frequently they are being spammed. This is also probably the hardest part for the company.
Finally, there are a lot of alternatives to WhatsApp that offer a plain and simple texting service. If WhatsApp does get this feature on board, it might just piss a lot of people and lose users. This is paramount to WhatsApp because the revenue model cannot be a success unless the customers stick around.
How will it help businesses?
However, on the bright side, companies will be able to directly contact their customers and win some more. WhatsApp will charge a little commission from their sales which is how they plan to generate money.
The trials are still being conducted in places where WhatsApp is very famous and used by a lot of people. Imagine you getting latest updates from a grocery store around you, so that you can also place your order through WhatsApp. There are endless possibilities associated with this idea but there is also risk.
However, if WhatsApp is able to make this feature less risky, then the businesses will not need third party apps to push advertisements. They can directly contact them on WhatsApp, and finish the transaction then and there. WhatsApp might also integrate payment solution on its app if this goes through.