The messaging service WhatsApp has launched a business app so that users can keep their personal and company communications separate.
Aimed at small firms, WhatsApp Business is a free-to-download Android app available on Google Play. As well as the UK and the United States, WhatsApp Business is now available in Indonesia, Italy and Mexico. The app will be rolled out around the world in the coming weeks.
According to WhatsApp: "Our new app will make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for our 1.3 billion users to chat with businesses that matter to them".
Users will know that they're talking to a business because firms will be listed as a Business Account. Users can continue using WhatsApp as usual - there's no need to download anything new. Business users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, and report spam.
Key features of the WhatsApp Business app include:
- Business profiles : Providing customers with information including a business description and contact details;
- Messaging tools : Smart messaging tools such as quick replies that provide answers to FAQs, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you're busy.
- Messaging statistics : Simple metrics such as the number of messages read.
In addition, WhatsApp Web allows business users to send and receive WhatsApp Business messages on a desktop.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2104. Until 2016 it charged users $1 for an annual subscription; since then the app has been free. However, WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema has not ruled out charges. Idema told the Wall Street Journal last year: "We do intend on charging businesses in the future."