More than eight years after agreeing to buy one of the world's largest messaging apps, the company formerly known as Facebook has decided to start making money from it.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said on Thursday that it was opening up commercial services to those who want to use the messaging app to power their businesses. It was the largest step towards making money from the service.
Business owners can use the new initiative to build a custom dashboard on top of the WhatsApp software so they can chat with customers and offer customer services more easily.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's chief executive, said that this is an important step to help more businesses connect with people and help more people message the businesses that they want to support.
Depending on the region, users will be charged based on the number of conversations they have with their customers. It will offer a free tier with limited services for small businesses.
The move is the strongest signal that Meta wants to begin making meaningful revenue from WhatsApp, as it faces business challenges on several fronts. The most expensive acquisition was Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp for $22 billion. For a long time, Meta spent hundreds of millions of dollars to operate and support the messaging service.
Making more money is important. Apple's changes to the iPhone operating system has hurt Meta's advertising business, and the company lost tens of millions of users in Russia after being banned in the country. The war in Ukraine has upset some of Meta's advertising operations.
Meta is trying to become a company that provides people with digital experiences. A quarter of the company's market value was wiped out in February after a poor earnings report.
It has been hesitant to make money from its service. After dabbling with the idea of charging each user $1 annually to use the service, Facebook executives nixed the idea as too anemic and difficult to scale.
The founders of the messaging service headed out the door. The plan is to combine all of the messaging services on the apps that he owns. Changes made by the company allowed Facebook to get more information about how people use the messaging service. The changes were not used for ad- tracking.
Millions of users in Brazil and South America embraced the app, as well as across the Middle East and much of the European Union.
Many of them were small and medium-sized businesses that used the messaging service to speak with their customers. The experience was clunky and difficult to navigate, and wasn't designed with business services in mind.
Businesses can use the app to communicate with their customers, if the new product is any indication. Businesses that pay for the CloudAPI will get cloud hosting storage.
The new product would make it easier for businesses and customers to use the service, as Mr. Zuckerberg said that more than one billion users connect with businesses across the messaging service every week.
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