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WhatsApp irons a shirt, dons a suit, prepares business services

Slackers beware, Facebook-owned messaging platform thinks it can charge for chat

WhatsApp thinks the time is right for a service that will formally connect its billion daily users to businesses.

The company says that plenty of businesses use the service to interact with customers, but that it doesn't verify businesses accounts or let such users work with anything other than a single smartphone to handle their WhatsApp presences.

WhatsApp is therefore “building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks.” For the little guys, WhatsApp hints at offering “a verified profile so people can identify a business from another person – and an easier way to respond to messages.” Which smells like automation and/or a desktop app.

At the big end of town, WhatsApp imagines a tool that will “provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates.”

Facebook can already do that sort of thing with its Messenger app. The Social Network™ acquired WhatsApp in 2014. It's therefore unsurprising that WhatsApp is following its parent's lead and creating richer ways for organisations to use its services. That it plans to charge for the enterprise solution should also see no jaws hit the floor, given WhatsApp's colossal user population and Facebook's need to satisfy investors.

All we need now is a proper piece of CamelCase jargon, preferably containing the word “economy” or “commerce” to describe such services. “ChatEconomy”, anyone? Or perhaps “Thumberce” is a better idea. We're sure you'll do better in the comments. ®


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