Businesses will be able to do things like provide real-time customer service and send information like boarding passes or shipping confirmations, WhatsApp wrote in a blog post.
Businesses can respond to messages from people for free if the response is made within 24 hours. The API can also plug into customer relationship management tools like Twilio and Zendesk. In India, 84% of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers.
Facebook also said on Wednesday that users on its namesake app and Instagram can now see the amount of time they spend on the app each day and receive notifications when they exceed a self-prescribed threshold.
"Businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and your chats don't get cluttered". The WhatsApp Business API is launching to let businesses respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours but will charge them a fixed rate by country per message sent after that.More news: Hector Bellerin hails Unai Emery and digs out Arsene Wenger
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The rollout has also been surprisingly very quick from the company as most WhatsApp users have already got the option to initiate a group voice or video call on their device.
It will now be displaying ads of businesses that link out to WhatsApp. Current customers on WhatsApp Business solutions include Absa Bank, GTBank, First Bank of Nigeria and United Bank of Africa.
"We're introducing the WhatsApp Business API to help businesses manage communications with existing and potential customers at scale".
WhatsApp Business has an active user base of over 3 million people globally.