Facebook’s WhatsApp Enables In-Chat Purchases

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Facebook-owned WhatsApp is introducing new services that will enable business users to sell directly on the platform within chats, WhatsApp said in a statement on Thursday (Oct. 22).

WhatsApp will also offer hosting services and other tools to make it easy for businesses to sell and users to shop. A Youtube video that WhatsApp released with its statement shows how the platform envisions the future of business messaging.  

“More than 175 million people every day message a WhatsApp business account. Our research shows people prefer to message a business to get help, and they’re more likely to make a purchase when they can do so,” WhatsApp said.

Hosting will be handled via Facebook, and WhatsApp said it plans to expand its relationship with partners so more business services can be offered.

The company said it will also start charging businesses for some services, “which will help WhatsApp continue building a business of our own while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people.”

Founded in 2009, WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook five years later for $16 billion. The cross-platform mobile messaging app is used in 180 countries and lets individuals or groups exchange text, photos, videos, documents and location, as well as voice calls.  

In July, the company launched its payments tool WhatsApp Pay in Brazil — where it has 120 million users  — and partnered with Brazilian card operator Cielo. The country’s central bank approved the new service as long as the rules are followed.

Also in July, WhatsApp announced it would be integrating QR codes for businesses. Facebook said QR codes embedded in products’ tags are another way customers can engage with businesses.

WhatsApp is also in the midst of offering payments to its 400,000 million users in India, pending final approval from regulators. It took the company several months of engineering to comply with India’s regulations.  

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