For the first time, WhatsApp is testing a system that will let businesses talk directly to WhatsApp users, according to communications about the project reported by Reuters.
The tests are an important signal of how the tech service, WhatsApp, plans to make money from its massively popular service. WhatsApp, however, has not yet developed a business model in the three years since Facebook Inc bought it for a hefty $19 billion.
WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase “What’s up?”, has aided many mobile services by providing free user texts or calls to friends and family, without any sort of charges. It stand in the market with competitions like WeChat, a unit of China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd.
One of the highest potential revenue source is to charge businesses that want to contact customers on WhatsApp. However, the company is carefully handling all the problems t avoid any spam messages, as stated in the documents.
According to the documents, WhatsApp is also busy surveying users about the extent to which they talk to businesses on WhatsApp, and if they ever received any spam.
A WhatsApp spokeswoman declined to comment on the testing of the system.
In an email response, Y Combinator President Sam Altman said that he was not aware of the WhatsApp test but claimed: “We do generally see a lot of companies wanting to test their products with YC cos.”
Umer Ilyas, co-founder of Cowlar Inc. said that the trial is still in the early stages with one of the startups involved. The system is claimed to be highly awaited in remote places where WhatsApp is especially popular, he said.
‘Cowlar makes collars for dairy cows, collecting data on their activity and recommending changes to improve milk yield. The company, which is testing the collars in the United States, wants to use WhatsApp to send automatic alerts from the collars directly to farmers if say, a cow is not behaving normally,’ Ilyas said.
“It represents a huge opportunity, because in all the big dairy markets – India, Brazil, Pakistan – a lot of farmers have access to WhatsApp,” he said in a phone interview.