After shelling out $22 billion, Facebook finally seems to be taking steps to make some money via WhatsApp. It is now testing a system that lets small businesses communicate with their customers directly via messages.
This new system is believed to be in early stages of testing, and WhatsApp is in talks with a few small businesses that are a part of the Y Combinator startup incubator, Reuters reports. At the same time, the company is working on ways to avoid a possibility of these businesses spamming their customers with messages. It has also been conducting surveys among select users to gauge just how much they would want to interact with a particular business.
According to the report, Cowlar Inc is one such business that WhatsApp has been in talks with. It makes collars for dairy cows, and based on collected data, recommends steps to improve overall milk yield. With WhatsApp, the startup’s co-founder Umer IIyas says, the company will be able to “send automatic alerts from the collars directly to farmers if say, a cow is not behaving normally.”
Now this isn’t the first time we are hearing about WhatsApp’s plans to tap into the enterprise segment in order to make some money. Earlier this year, reports surfaced suggesting that a version of the app called ‘WhatsApp For Business’ is in the works, and a pilot program could be launched in India before being rolled out across the globe. India after all has over 200 million monthly active users for WhatsApp, out of its billion plus global user base. ALSO READ: WhatsApp crosses 200 million monthly active users in India; looks to integrate payments
It’s not surprising to see WhatsApp look for monetizing means after having spent about three years in ad-free and subscription-less existence. Before being acquired by Facebook for about $22 billion, WhatsApp had taken down its $0.99 annual subscription fee on all the platforms. WhatsApp recently also roped in its first COO Matt Idema, who is said to be leading the efforts to monetize the platform.
WhatsApp also isn’t the only company focusing on helping small businesses in India harness the power of internet to better communicate with their customers. It’s parent company had introduced ‘Facebook at Work’ aimed at small enterprises, while Google too introduced an initiative called ‘Digital Unlocked’, with the aim to bring small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) online.