The most popular and widely used WhatsApp messenger service confirmed that the company will start charging businesses for sending marketing-related messages and customer service related messages soon. The messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country, WhatsApp said.
Facebook has been looking at ways to monetize its WhatsApp service in the face of rising costs as it spends heavily to improve privacy safeguards and tackles concerns about social media addiction. WhatsApp, which has around 1.5 billion users, said starting Wednesday businesses can use its WhatsApp Business API to send notifications such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders and event tickets.
WhatsApp acknowledged that it is charging a premium compared to SMS rates. Wireless carriers typically charge businesses well below a penny per SMS, and the price is still close to a penny when including fees collected by intermediaries between carriers and businesses.
Facebook also said on Wednesday that users on its namesake app and Instagram can now see the amount of time they spend on the app each day and receive notifications when they exceed a self-prescribed threshold. Users also can mute notifications from the apps for up to eight hours.