Facebook has announced that it will begin charging businesses for sending customer service and marketing messages on Whatsapp, one of its owned messaging platforms. It is considered as an attempt to jumpstart revenue on the messaging service.
Facebook says that the messages will be charged at a premium to SMS rates. A fixed rate for confirmed delivery that will range from 0.5 cents to 9 cents (7p) per message will be charged. The charges are said to depend on the country.
Facebook has been looking for ways to monetise Whatsapp for some time now. It comes as the social network company’s flagship brand faces increasing costs, slow revenue cost, and a decrease in the number of its users. The service is experiencing rising costs as it is spending heavily in order to improve the privacy safeguards and tackles concerns regarding social media addiction.
Whatsapp now has approximately 1.5 billion users. The company announced that starting today, businesses can utilise its Whatsapp Business API in order to send notifications to users for topics that may include appointment reminders, event tickets, and delivery confirmations.
Last January, WhatsApp had revealed that it would begin allowing small business accounts to communicate via the WhatsApp Business application, which has more than 3 million active users. At the time, Matt Idema, the Chief operating officer said that WhatsApp intends to charge the businesses in the future.
As a comparison, the majority of service carriers usually charge businesses well below a penny per SMS sent. The price is still close to a penny when it includes fees and charges that are collected by intermediaries between businesses and carriers.
The Whatsapp Business API will also allow the businesses to respond to messages from the users for free for up to 24 hours, however, it will charge the business with a fixed rate per message if the messages were sent after the 24-hour period. The charges for this will also be determined on a country-by-country basis.