History, products and roadmap of WhatsApp for companies

31 January 2023

The corporate use of WhatsApp is a really complex decision, in which the convenience or ease of its use is constantly faced, with serious difficulties when it comes to integrating into pre-existing processes and infrastructures.

I start with this post a series that will try to shed some light on the implications of using this technology in a corporate context.

Let’s start the journey, trying to understand how a mainstream messaging application has come to become an option in professional contexts.

The alternative to SMS that laid the foundations for a new OTT ecosystem

If you are considering using the popular tool for your relationship with customers, it is highly recommended that you stop to analyze its medium-term strategy.

The conventional version of WhatsApp Messenger launched in January 2009 , was created for communications between individuals , not for communications B2C.

Initially, WhatsApp was not free, although its cost was really low ($1 per download/annual renewal). This friction was enough for a market not used to paying for apps, but despite this they reached 700 million users, until in 2016 they eliminated this requirement. Seven years later, the volume of users of this platform has multiplied by 3.

In 2018 , already in the hands of Facebook (now Meta) WhatsApp Business came to light (with a gap of almost a year between the Android version and the IOS version) that offers a differentiated tool for small and medium-sized companies to interact with your clients. A few months later, WhatsApp Business API will be born , aimed at the large business segment and also for some certified partners to generate new applications integrated with this solution.

There were 90 pre-selected corporations that were part of this first WhatsApp Business API proof of concept, including Booking.com, KML Airlines or Uber. These companies could only make use of the API for transactional communications without marketing purposes.

If we look at WhatsApps´ mission, the strategy has not changed since its foundation. Its initial objective was to be an alternative to SMS , and in the same line they found, almost 10 years after its launch, for the first time a direct monetization formula through the exploitation of its API, covering exactly the same needs as a CPaaS . of SMS.

Converting WhatsApp into a notification channel for such recurring uses as identity verification, order status notifications, customer service… is the gold mine to which WhatsApp aspires, which closed 2021 with revenues of 790 billion euros. Dollars).

We are at a time of expansion in the market for Telecommunications APIs, so the company is in a sweet moment to exploit other modes of communication (voice, video), which had been left in the background compared to the enormous success of instant messaging, and that other companies such as Microsoft are knowing how to take advantage of to generate new sources of income (Microsoft Teams Phone).

Whatsapp and advertising

In 2018 one of the co-founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, decided to leave the company due to discrepancies over the plans of the parent company (Facebook) to integrate the data of WhatsApp users with other group products. (Goal).

This movement, together with other controversies about privacy and data protection that have historically persecuted Facebook, motivated the adoption of new privacy measures in WhatsApp, among them end-to-end encryption< /strong>, a movement that is also controversial, this time from the opposite extreme, by turning messaging communications into an “impregnable” fortress for the transmission of criminal information or disinformation actions.

The truth is that the relationship between WhatsApp and advertising has always been tense. Currently, it develops at two very different speeds, marked by the regulations of the different countries and their greater or lesser openness to allowing the information of WhatsApp users to be shared to feed the advertising datasets of other company products.

WhatsApp Business Premium, payments and other experiments

If you want to know what the next WhatsApp novelty is going to be, you should pay attention to two of its largest markets, Brazil and India, whose regulations are much more lax than the European one, which makes them excellent fields of experimentation.

The journey of Whatsapp payment as UPI (Unified Payments Interface) started its journey in India in 2020, later in Brazil and other countries but its International expansion is being relatively slow, and complex as it requires the authorization of the banking authorities of each region. In fact, in Spain, it is not available today, after years of its launch.

In the United States and Guatemala, the Whatsapp payments experiment, which barely lasted a year, involved the use of a cryptocurrency (Novi) with dollar parity.

Whatsapp Business Directory, only available on Android and in some countries like Brazil, allows users to get in touch with local businesses based on a proximity criterion, which implies an attempt to penetrate the proximity retail sector.

Everything seems to indicate that WhatsApp will bet on a freemium service for companies. , recovering the strategy of charging the user, at least the business user for whom it is intended, in exchange for some advantages, which place it in a proposal for medium-sized companies, with a certain dependence on the channel. The main novelties are in the evolution of the company profile to “Whatsapp web page”), personalized links (the phone number of the link disappears) and the possibility of connecting up to ten agents, with some basic options for assigning and labeling contacts.

What is WhatsApp Business?

The user always pushes the limits of any application, and the use of this tool quickly spread in corporate communication contexts and of course between clients and companies. To support this latter use case, WhatsApp Business was created, adding to the existing functions others aimed at small and medium-sized companies:

  • Company Profile to display important information such as address, email, and website.
  • Tags to organize your chats and messages for easy finding.
  • Message templates to respond quickly to your customers: preconfigured quick responses, greetings, notices of time availability.
  • Message statistics
  • Catalogues and collections
  • Interactive messages (CTAs, quick replies, pick lists).
  • Support for fixed telephone numbers/PSTN.
  • Integration with Facebook Shop.
  • Possibility of having a “domestic” and a “business” version installed on the same device, with two different numbers, to separate personal and work calls.

WhatsApp Business API

Over time, the business ecosystem has become more complex to accommodate the needs of large companies, while Meta has built one of its first sources of direct monetization through its WhatsApp Business platform and the exploitation of its messaging services. communication via API, intended for both large companies and service providers integrated with Whatsapp.

WhatsApp ‘s Business Application Programming Interface (API) was initially only available to third-party WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (also called PSB or BSP). Each BSP can have its own billing method (charge per message, per conversation started, surcharges for staff employed, flat rates…) and their own prices.

These companies, using the ALocal IP of the Whatsapp Business Platform, can offer some complementary management tools (bots, multi-channel management, CMS) and legal compliance, such as those intended to obtain and document the legal consent for the processing of personal data by the brand, or guarantee the location of the service servers in < a href=”https://routemobile.com/blog/guide-to-whatsapp-business-api/”>European territory.

Currently, Whatsapp directly offers its own option, Whatsapp Cloud API, where is Meta hosting the API on your servers, instead of an enterprise solution provider or on a company’s private server.


  • Whatsapp was born as an alternative to SMS. The functionality of transactional notifications being one of the most promoted uses in the business ecosystem.
  • Currently, its monetization depends mainly on the services that companies pay for (it is estimated that more than 1 M companies use this platform)
  • Roadmap is reminiscent of WeChats at times, which is reflected in its positioning as a “conversational marketplace”, with a strategy that competes head-on with traditional ecommerce platforms.
  • The international context profoundly conditions WhatsApp’s expansion plans, both for its messaging business and other complementary initiatives.
  • The suspicions derived from the use of personal data, limits the extension of the advertising business of Facebook and Instagram to WhatsApp.
  • WhatsApp has delegated part of its growth to the integration that third parties can do with its platform (to whom it offers a massive user base).
  • Instant messaging is WhatsApp’s core communication mode, the other videoconferences or voice are in the background and are currently in a state of maturity far from that of UCaaS proposals such as MsTeams or Zoom.</li >

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