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WhatsApp set to launch premium features for businesses

WHATSAPP is launching free cloud-based API services in an effort to entice more businesses to use the app, according to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms (FB).

Facebook-owned Meta has released new commerce and business-focused services on numerous platforms, including the messaging app, which has increasingly courted business users.

Zuckerberg, speaking at Meta’s “Conversations” event, said the offering would mean “any business or developer can easily access our service, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and speed up their response time to customers by using our secure WhatsApp Cloud API hosted by Meta.”

WhatsApp already offers an API, or application programming interface, that allows businesses to link their systems to the service and engage in customer service chats, generating cash for Meta.

Businesses will not be able to message people on WhatsApp unless they have requested to be contacted, according to Meta, which bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in a blockbuster 2014 acquisition.

WhatsApp also said on Thursday that it plans to offer optional paid capabilities as part of a new premium service for users of its dedicated business app for small enterprises.

Options to manage chats across up to 10 devices and customizable click-to-chat links that businesses may put on their websites and share with clients are among the features that are still being developed.

In a conversation with Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg at the conference, Uber (UBER) CEO Dara Khosrowshahi revealed that a third of the users ordering rides via WhatsApp in India are new customers.

He added that the ride-hailing business, which launched its WhatsApp chatbot in December, is now intending to further customize the service, first with customers in and around Delhi and then expanding to places such as Brazil.

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