November 25, 2020

Facebook to charge for WhatsApp Business services

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is being censored in China as the Communist Party congress gets underway.

Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Facebook said Thursday it will start charging companies for some its WhatsApp Business chat services.

WhatsApp Business allows small and medium businesses to chat with customers, provide support and sell products directly. Facebook said it will soon offer services like hosting, to help partners manage chat messages with clients, inventory and more.

Facebook said WhatsApp Business has more than 50 million business users and that 175 million people around the world message a business each day.

Facebook has struggled to generate meaningful revenue from WhatsApp, which it acquired for $16 billion in 2014, and primarily relies on advertising in Facebook and Instagram to generate revenue. It’s one of Facebook’s acquisitions that’s under scrutiny by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, which determined earlier this month that Facebook wields monopoly power in social networking.

CNBC reported in 2017 that Facebook was exploring ways to make money through WhatsApp through business chat. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on pricing for the new services, or how many paid products it will offer.

“Today we support more than 50M users of the WhatsApp Business app around the world who use it to communicate with their customers, close sales and grow their business,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“While we’re excited about that, we think there’s significant potential for us to grow that even more – especially as digital tools are even more critical now for businesses during the pandemic.”

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