You’ve probably heard it already: WhatsApp now also has an official service for businesses! WhatsApp Business is intended to make the contact between (small and medium) companies and their customers fast, easy, and safe.
The new messenger is currently only available on Android devices in a few countries but should be available worldwide as well as on iOS devices in the short term. We wondered: will WhatsApp Business also be interesting for companies in the Caribbean and what should we pay attention to?
So, what is WhatsApp Business? WhatsApp has already been used by many (small) companies as a service channel for some time. Either by using a personal telephone number or sometimes an extra device was purchased to keep the company account separate. However, WhatsApp was built for people and could use some enhancements to improve the business experience. For example, initially it was not possible to be verified as an official company profile, there was no easy way to promptly answer frequently asked questions, or to set up automated away messages. Then, on 18 January 2018, WhatsApp announced the launch of WhatsApp Business. A free-to-download Android app that allows small and medium-sized businesses to connect with their customers on WhatsApp easily, quickly, and above all, professionally.
With WhatsApp Business it is no longer necessary to use your private telephone number or purchase a separate device for business purposes. You can use both apps simultaneously (WhatsApp Messenger and WhatsApp Business). It is important to note that WhatsApp only allows one mobile number to be linked to one WhatsApp account. This means you must register your business telephone number for WhatsApp Business and use a separate private number for WhatsApp Messenger.
Companies can create a business profile with WhatsApp Business. Here you can provide helpful information for your customers, like your business description, business hours, website, and contact information.
With automated away messages and greeting messages, and predefined messages for quick replies, you can truly connect with your customers 24/7.
WhatsApp Business also supports WhatsApp Web, enabling you to manage the service online on a computer.
Would this work in the Caribbean? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Our region has also seen a significant increase in the use of social media on mobile over the years (Hootsuite & We Are Social, 2018). For example, 75% of the Curacao population now uses social media on mobile devices, and WhatsApp Messenger is the most widely used means of communication (Central Bureau of Statistics Curacao, 2018). With almost 110.000 people on Curacao (67%) active on WhatsApp, companies would certainly do well to add WhatsApp to their communication channels!
WhatsApp announced it is currently working on an enterprise solution. WhatsApp Enterprise is set to become the Business solution for large enterprises such as airlines, e-commerce websites, and banks, with which messages and notifications can be sent on a larger scale. This is interesting for sending, for example, flight status updates and check-in information. [update: WhatsApp Business API was launched in August 2018.]
This just in: WhatsApp Pay
Since last Friday it is possible to transfer payments via WhatsApp in India to friends and family! A beta version of the payments service has been released to a limited number of Indian WhatsApp users whose telephone numbers have been officially reported to the bank. Payment transfers take place via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and it is required that both persons are connected to a bank that supports UPI.
With WhatsApp Pay, transferring money to your contacts should be as easy as sending photos and files. For the time being, the beta version only concerns payments to direct contacts and has not been implemented in e-commerce platforms. [update: WhatsApp has not (yet) been able to fully launch its payments service in India due to issues raised by the government]
Want to stay informed?
Have you already tested WhatsApp Business? Are you curious about the latest news regarding WhatsApp Business / Enterprise / Pay? Of course we will keep an eye on this and inform you about the latest developments. You know what? We’ll send you an app! 😉