WhatsApp officially launches its app for businesses in select markets

WhatsApp today officially launched its new WhatsApp Business app in select marketplaces, including Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S ., ahead of its planned worldwide rollout. The addition of business profiles and new messaging tools aimed at business clients is part of the company’s broader plan to generate revenue by charging larger enterprises for advanced tools to communicate with customers on the platform now used by over a billion people worldwide.

The WhatsApp Business app is the initial entry phase in this market.

Aimed at smaller businesses, the free app- Android-only for now- help companies better connect with their customers and establish an official presence on WhatsApp’s service. Basically, it’s the WhatsApp version of a Facebook Page.

The company had previously announced the app’s arrival, and begun substantiating business accounts as part of its WhatsApp Business pilot program back in September 2017. Verified accounts were given a green checkmark as a means of demonstrating their authenticity.

With the new WhatsApp Business app arriving today, small companies can set up their WhatsApp Business profiles by filling out info like a business description, email, address and website.

WhatsApp says people will know when they’re talking to a business because these accounts will be listed as “Business Accounts.” Over time, some of these will become “Confirmed Accounts, ” after WhatsApp confirms the account phone number it registered with matches the business phone number.

Once established on the WhatsApp network, businesses can then utilize a series of tools provided by the app, like smart messaging tools that offer similar technology as what you’d find today in Facebook Messenger.

For example, the app offers “quick replies” that offer fast answers to customers’ frequently asked questions; “greeting messages” that introduce customers to the business; and “away messages, ” that let clients know you’re busy.

Businesses will also be able to access messaging statistics, like number of messages read, and they can send and receive messages from the desktop via WhatsApp Web.

While industries will need to use this new app to communicate with customers, for members of the general WhatsApp user, there’s no change. They’ll be able to message business but can control their experience by blocking numbers and business, as well as report spam.

In addition, businesses will only be able to contact people who their telephone number and agreed to receive messages from the business, the company had previously said.

The Business app will later be joined by an enterprise answer aimed at large businesses with a global client base- like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks, WhatsApp had said last fall. It didn’t announce any news regarding this solution today, but in the past the company said it would charge for these enterprise tools. Presumably, they’ll be built on top of the current WhatsApp Business core product.