Facebook has said that it might allow businesses to connect with consumers through WhatsApp, as the social network looks at possible avenues to monetize the app it paid $22 billion for last year.
The company has already begun testing a similar feature on its Messenger app platform, alongside payments, in-app purchases and even gaming. Messenger was developed in-house at Facebook and is currently smaller than WhatsApp in terms of its user base.
“We think that enabling that B2C messaging has good business potential for us,” said David Wehner, Facebook’s CFO. “As we learn those things, I think there’s going to be opportunities to bring some of those things to WhatsApp, but that’s more longer-term than the near-term.”
The announcement comes at a time when WhatsApp is closing in on having 1 billion users. That in effect calls for the company to begin monetizing the app, in keeping with Mark Zuckerberg’s famous saying that it’s only worth thinking about money when a product has a billion users.
WhatsApp is adding 100 million new users roughly every 4 months, and at that rate should breach the 1 billion user mark by the year-end. Messenger isn’t as popular as WhatsApp yet, but it seems that the company is using it as a platform to test potential monetization features.
Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion last year but has shied away from mainstream monetization routes such as charging users for its service or displaying in-app ads. So far, the company is hinting at B2C messaging, payments and games as its best bets.