As part of its plans to generate more revenues from WhatsApp, Facebook on Thursday announced that the app would start offering e-commerce options and hosting services for businesses that use the service to interact with their customers. The company also said that it will soon start charging WhatsApp Business users to continue using the service.
Overall, the Facebook-owned company proposed three revenue streams from the app going forward – Shopping, Facebook Hosting Services, and Business Sales. As part of the changes, businesses will now be able to sell products on WhatsApp via ‘Facebook Shops’, an online platform launched earlier this year. “We will expand ways for people to check out available products and make purchases right from a chat. We also want to make it easier for businesses to integrate these features into their existing commerce and customer solutions,” said the company.
Another new service the company will start offering is Facebook Hosting Services that it says will “provide a new option for businesses to manage their WhatsApp messages”. What it basically means is that the company will offer small and medium-sized businesses who use WhatsApp Business, the ability to store their messages, chat history, and other data on Facebook servers.
As for the paid service, WhatsApp says that the revenues will help it “continue building a business of our own while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people”. Do note that while the shopping tool would start rolling out before the end of this year, the hosting service would become available in 2021. There’s no definitive timeframe for when WhatsApp Business will become a paid service, but the company says that it will happen “in the months to come”.