The dreaded moment may be here! There are indications that popular messenger service platform, Whatsapp may soon begin to charge businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages. The platform made this known in an announcement, yesterday.
According to the announcement, WhatsApp is launching a Business API that will allow business account owners respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours but will charge them a rate ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country for messages sent after that time frame.
In its announcement, Whatsapp noted that customers have indicated that its services are “quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail”. It also indicated that its prices are way cheaper too and that this new update is a form of “expanding our support for businesses that need more powerful tools to communicate with their customers”.
But we know that Whatsapp is not all driven by an altruistic purpose, especially at a time when Facebook is facing a massive attack which is affecting a number of users and revenue.
Techcrunch reports that this move is one of Facebook’s ways of monetizing WhatsApp’s services in the face of rising costs as it spends heavily to improve privacy safeguards and tackles concerns about social media addiction.
Recall that there were speculations about Facebook making WhatsApp Business its pilot monetized WhatsApp feature when it announced in January it would start allowing small business accounts to communicate through the WhatsApp Business application. Whatsapp business now has over 3 million active users from 1.5 billion users overall users.
What does this mean?
The decision to charge only for slow replies at the onset is an ingenious model by WhatsApp. The implications are that customers will receive faster replies from business owners, who apparently want to cut cost. This way customers will be assured of better services on WhatsApp and they will prefer using the platform, going forward.
If this happens, business owners will have to pay when Whatsapp fully monetizes the platform.
If payment fintechs in Nigeria allow Whatsapp payment to happen, their business model will be seriously upended. This is the time regulators need to step in and protect Nigerian budding payment fintechs. Case in point, Facebook has $12bn in cash to burn.
— IshyourBoy (@IshYourBoy) August 2, 2018
On the flip side, WhatsApp may also consider charging per response volume. For instance, it may say, 1 cent each for every reply after the first 100 monthly. This will also force business owners to pay for the services.
Then, you need to consider the fact that 24 hours response time is not always realistic. There will be days like Public Holidays, Family Celebrations, Vacations, weekends or even business emergencies. Since WhatsApp is not going to have an exception, you will have to pay.
Although WhatsApp has not announced the commencement date, we will have to wait to see what difference this will make to the world of social messaging. We will keep our fingers crossed.
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