Facebook is laying the groundwork for the free messaging service WhatsApp to begin making money, allowing businesses to message its more than one billion users.
It’s the first step toward monetising the platform since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to pay US$19bn for the popular app in 2014.
The strategy is an important step for Facebook as it attempts to make money from its most expensive acquisition. In addition to the messages from businesses, WhatsApp said it would begin sharing more information about its users with the “Facebook family”.
The data, including a person’s phone number, could be used to better targets ads when browsing Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp said.
Facebook’s other texting platform, called Messenger, has also been attempting to court businesses as a way to generate revenue. Several services in Asia, most notably WeChat in China, have successfully taken this approach.
In its blog post, WhatsApp also reiterated its commitment to encryption, saying no outside parties are able to see what its users are saying to each other. The policy has put the company at odds with government authorities in the US and Europe who want an ability to intercept the communication of potential terrorists.
“Our belief in the value of private communications is unshakeable,” the company said. — (c) 2016 Bloomberg LP