WhatApp gets down to business

18th September 2017
WhatApp gets down to business

Indian businesses are using the messaging tool  so successfully that owner, Facebook,  wants  a piece of  the cake.
Bangalore, September  18 2017: When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014,  it  assured  everyone that there would be no advertisements to degrade the experience.  Since then, this free tool  has grown to embrace 1.3 billion users, worldwide. India with over 200 million users is its biggest market.  It is  the app that   most Indian mobile phone users promptly   put on their phones -- if it is not already there. For some reason we tend to call  it
An ad-free WhatsApp  may turn out to be yet another case of promises, promises!  Facebook already runs another messaging service -- Facebook Messenger -- where users encounter  advertisements between conversations. WhatsApp  may be next in the queue.  
A  WhatsApp blog suggests that so many  corporates  were using the tool that it had decided to  get in on the act of connecting  users to business. "We've heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone...We'll be testing new features that ... make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp. "
WhatsApp for business  seems to have been triggered  by  typical Indian jugaad:  A  Gurgaon-based healthcare  enterprise  called 1mg  which sells  medicines  and health products online, uses Whatsapp to connect with customers.  If it receives an order and needs to clarify something, it sends a  Whatsapp message rather than an SMS.
 So many other outfits are  doing this that WhatsApp has launched a business pilot in India and BookMyShow has signed up as the first client.  Henceforth users who book tickets on BookMyShow will  receive a message on WhatsApp with the confirmation text or an M-ticket (mobile ticket) QR Code, along with an email.
Meanwhile new code has been added to  Facebook's Ad Manager  that now enables  businesses to not only place ads in Facebook Messenger, but also to "Send WhatsApp Message".   WhatsApp  has clarified that   such paid messages would only go to users who have  agreed to receive them.   Which means,  we may  soon have to scan  the fine print of terms and conditions  all over again -- because there is where such 'permissions' traditionally lurk.
Will WhatsAp users be subjected to 'cold messaging' --  receiving  unsolicited  commercial messages similar to the sponsored messages that  pop up so irritatingly on so many web sites?  
WhatsApp says no:   business messages will be identified by a  green tick mark. You can then block them.  In other words, you must do the work in future to prevent commercials creeping into your WhatsApp  traffic.   This is the face of a business-savvy WhatsApp. We do have a choice accept  -- or opt out.

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