The WhatsApp Business standalone app was announced in an effort to make business communication with customers more streamlined for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) on the popular messaging platform.
For those who use a business number and a personal one, both the WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Messenger apps can be used on the same device and registered with your different numbers. WhatsApp Business is also compatible with WhatsApp Web, the app’s desktop web browser client.
A part of its WhatsApp for Business initiative that was first officially announced back in September last year and tested with businesses like BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip in India since, the new app for SMEs is now available to download via Google Play in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US.
The WhatsApp Business app is the initial entry point in this market. The WhatsApp Business app is free, and will be rolled out across the world in the coming weeks, which is when it can be expected in India. It will be only available for Android phones at launch, but the company will eventually have a version for iPhones too.
With the new WhatsApp Business app arriving today, small companies can set up their WhatsApp Business profiles by filling out information like a business description, email, address and website.
The Business app will later be joined by an enterprise solution aimed at large businesses with a global customer base – like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks, WhatsApp had said previously.
WhatsApp competes in a crowded market that also includes Facebook’s Messenger application, Tencent Holdings’s WeChat and numerous other messaging services.
WhatsApp Business is free and available to download now for Android users, though there’s no mention of an iOS release yet. WhatsApp Business is currently available in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US, with a global rollout scheduled in the coming weeks.
WhatsApp, the social messaging service acquired by Facebook for $19bn in 2014, is arguably the world’s fastest-growing communication app. As on January 2015, half a billion people around the world were regular, active WhatsApp users. These users are sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos every single day.