Making the News with WhatsApp


Just last week, Channel News Asia made official announcement of its presence on WhatsApp Business, nudging its followers along to subscribe to its news service on the world’s most popular messaging platform.

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion left many bewildered in 2014. Besides talks of Zuckerberg’s intention to integrate Facebook messenger, Instagram direct messages and WhatsApp messenger in the start of 2019, here are some other ways Facebook is harvesting from its acquisition.

How does WhatsApp monetize?

1. $1 Yearly Subscription Fee

Prior to the acquisition, WhatsApp charged some of its user $1 annual subscription fees. The fee was imposed on users depending on the country they reside in. In 2016, this practice was scraped, allowing WhatsApp to become a completely free chat application.

2. WhatsApp Business Solution

At the announcement to ditch $1 fees, WhatsApp reassured its users and promised an experience without third-party ads and spam. Naturally, one will wonder how they would monetize- the answer was using WhatsApp to communicate with businesses who would pay for their services.

Three years on, the WhatsApp Business Solution was officially launched in March 2019. This move has prompted businesses to adopt WhatsApp as a main channel to service customers, and here’s why it makes sense.

Mobile-first connectivity in Asian markets continues to drive up the usage of mobile instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp — WhatsApp is poised to become the de-factor messaging app in said markets.

In countries such as Singapore and Malaysia where social media penetration rates are at 79% and 78%, WhatsApp usage eclipses other channels at 86% and 91% respectively. This shows the potential of using the WhatsApp Business Solution to reach out to customers on a platform they are most familiar with.

Automated responses and notifications on WhatsApp can help businesses efficiently service large segments of their customer base without incurring significant increments in support costs. The bottom line is, opening WhatsApp as an additional channel can help improve customer engagement tremendously.

The bottom line is, opening WhatsApp as an additional channel can help improve customer engagement tremendously.

Making sense of the WhatsApp Business Solution from the consumer perspective

The good news is, WhatsApp is sticking to its “no spam” promise.

There are regulations in place to ensure your expressed consent is required before businesses can reach out to you. For instance, you have to save the business’s number in your contacts for the business to continue sending you messages. To unsubscribe from a business is as simple as sending “Stop” or “Unsubscribe”.

End-to-end encryption still applies to messages you send or receive from the businesses, ensuring that WhatsApp remains a channel that you trust, and you enjoy using.