At the beginning of the year, Facebook launched WhatsApp Business, an Android app for businesses to engage with their customers. Today, the messaging service is expanding its tools to provide new ways for business users to provide support or share updates with their clients.
For starters, you'll be able to provide retailers or other businesses with your mobile phone number so they can send you updates through WhatsApp, such as a shipping confirmation or boarding passes. This can be implemented on websites, apps, or in actual stores.
Businesses will also be able to provide click-to-chat buttons on their website or Facebook page so that customers can easily begin a conversation with them on WhatsApp. This can be used as a tool for companies to provide real-time support to their clients rather than maintaining their own support chat system.
Messages sent to and from businesses will still use end-to-end encryption, so your communications will be secure. Additionally, to help prevent users from receiving floods of messages, WhatsApp is making it so that companies have to pay for certain kinds of messages sent to their clients, forcing them to be more selective. Naturally, customers can also simply block them as they would any other contact, should they become too intrusive.
WhatsApp says it will work directly with businesses to keep bringing more of them to the platform over time. Should you be interested in joining the fray, you can read more about the WhatsApp Business API here.