It is still to launch, but WhatsApp has been slowly working towards a new service which is set to make their messaging platform a lot more useful for their billion users.
WhatsApp for Business would allow users to engage businesses to ask questions, seek support and eventually engage in e-commerce, as is common in Asia in messaging apps. The feature could be used by businesses to keep users informed e.g. of hotel bookings, flight delays and more.
WhatsApp has not formally confirmed the service, but a FAQ regarding it, directed at consumers, has now popped up on WhatsApp’s website.
Verified business accounts
WhatsApp is exploring ways for you to communicate with the businesses that matter to you.
Some business accounts have been verified by WhatsApp. If you see a green badge next to a contact’s name, it means that WhatsApp has confirmed that the phone number of this contact belongs to a business account.
WhatsApp will also let you know when you start talking to a business via yellow messages inside a chat. There is no way to delete these messages from the chat.
If you already have a business’s phone number saved in your address book, the name you will see is the name you have saved in your address book.
If you don’t have a business’s phone number saved in your address book, the name you will see is the name the business has chosen for themselves.
If you’d like to stop a business from contacting you, you can block them.
Note: WhatsApp business verification is currently limited to a small number of businesses participating in a pilot program.
WABetaInfo has earlier leaked that WhatsApp business users will face all kinds of restrictions, such as not being able to change their name, the name having a specific length and being required to specify a website and email address in their profile. There will also be controls in place to prevent spamming by businesses.
WhatsApp will also use template technology to allow automatic translation of structured messages from businesses, allowing them to support users all around the world.
While WhatsApp has huge penetration around the world, these changes are necessary to bring the popular messaging app up to the technological level of apps like WeChat, and introduce messaging apps as a platform of commerce to the west.