Ever since Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform became a different company altogether. Firstly, Facebook removed the monthly charge fee and then introduced various new features, on-par with the rival platforms. After nearly three years of acquisition, Facebook is looking to monetize WhatsApp by adding 'Business Profiles' feature.
WhatsApp is looking to roll out 'WhatsApp for Business' program in India very soon. Firstly, the feature was confirmed by WhatsApp FAQ page. Secondly, WhatsApp roped in online ticketing platform Bookmyshow as its first partner to test the service.
A Twitter user posted an image of his WhatsApp chat, where Bookmyshow sent a confirmation message for his booked tickets via the instant messaging service. Sounds interesting, right? Well, this is how it works. Let's find out what WhatsApp for Business offers and will it replace the traditional SMS in India!
What is WhatsApp for Business in the first place?
You might have seen a blue tick on Facebook and Twitter platforms by now, which indicates that the accounts are verified by the respective platforms. More importantly, businesses which provide support via online platforms found this feature useful as they can interact and communicate with its customers easily.
This is how the WhatsApp for Business feature works. The official WhatsApp FAQ page says: "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."
By now, you must have got an idea on how this works out for WhatsApp and its partners.
Why WhatsApp for Business?
Recently, it was said that WhatsApp now has over 200 million active users alone in India, which itself shows how Indians are in love with the platform. WhatsApp has garnered so much popularity in India with its simplicity. When you look at the Hike Messenger, which is a 'Made in India' app, it looks way too cluttered and spam.
That's not the case with WhatsApp. Over the course of seven years, the company stuck with the same design. One more factor why Indians love WhatsApp is you can send and receive messages even with a patchy 2G connection (not all the time though).
WhatsApp even quoted that India is their biggest market, which has a lot of scopes. So, it's no brainer that WhatsApp is looking to introduce the business profiles feature in India first.
Will It Replace the Traditional SMS Feature?
Five years ago, SMS was the major source of communication for Indian consumers. But with the growing popularity of WhatsApp and Facebook, SMS communication faded away. These instant messaging platforms also became a worry for Indian telecom operators because the volume of SMS exchange has come down drastically, especially in the last three years.
WhatsApp also revealed that more than 1.4 billion messages exchanged in its platform last year, which is an insane number.
However, traditional SMS still has the upper hand in India. A mobile number is required to purchase anything online. We believe that WhatsApp for Business doesn't replace the SMS right away in India.
There are two reasons for this: India is not a country with complete internet coverage everywhere. Most of the time while travelling, our network drops down, the internet doesn't appear, and there are some situations where the internet appears, but you can't send or receive a WhatsApp message.
Furthermore, there are millions of Indias who shop online but are not aware or willing to stay away from social media. That said, the WhatsApp for Business will surely dwindle SMS, but it has a long way to go in becoming a de-facto option.
What Next for WhatsApp for Business?
Until now, WhatsApp roped in just one partner, but going forward, a lot of companies will join the program. A report of Factor Daily states that ride-sharing service Ola, hotel booking service Oyo, and several airlines are in talks with WhatsApp to test out the service. The feature might go official by the end of this year. Furthermore, Paytm also expected to roll out the same feature by the end of this year.