WhatsApp will soon be ready for business, and this could have some major consequences for its 1.2 billion users. The Indian market is one that is particularly important for the app, given there are over 200 million active users, and this number will only continue to grow due to the immense popularity of the application.
The free messaging App is now testing new tools that will enable businesses to connect and communicate easily with consumers. Many small businesses, including in India, already use the Facebook-owned app to reach their customers.
WhatsApp said these new tools are being tested through a closed pilot programme. In India, it is currently testing these tools with 1mg and BookMyShow.
"We're 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," WhatsApp said in a blogpost.
These businesses will be able to use these solutions to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates, it added.
A green tick will be shown next to the contact's name to show that WhatsApp has verified that the stated phone number belongs to that business account.
"We're looking forward to making it possible for people to connect with businesses in a fast and personal way, and giving businesses the tools to make that easier to do," WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema said.
The company said the chats between the user and the business would be end-to-end encrypted. "Some businesses may use service providers to manage their messages, and those service providers may be able to read the messages you send to those businesses," it added.
Users can stop a business from contacting them by blocking them. Founded in 2009, WhatsApp was acquired by social networking giant Facebook in 2014 for a whopping USD 22 billion. India is the largest market for WhatsApp with over 200 million monthly active users as of February 2017.