WhatsApp tests business chat tools in search for revenue

One potential revenue source is to charge businesses that want to contact customers on WhatsApp.

If this does take off, it will be the first time WhatsApp implement a service that will allow it to make directly from the users. Now, with over a billion active monthly users all over the world, WhatsApp is taking the next logical step - to figure out how to make money.

According to reports, WhatsApp is collaborating with startup incubator Y Combinator to test the new service. Facebook bought WhatsApp for more than $19 billion in 2014 but both parties have promised never to introduce in-app advertising, meaning alternative streams of income must be sought. However, after its famous acquisition by social networking giant Facebook for $19B, the service was made free for everyone. But the company is working carefully to avoid problems with spam messages, the documents show.

Alongside the tests, the company is conducting a survey to find out the extent consumers talk to businesses on WhatsApp and also if they receive spam messages.

WhatsApp has talked about possible development of an API (application programming interface) that would let businesses develop custom applications for specific purposes.

A lot of technology startups run private trials with companies incubated at Y-Combinator.

WhatsApp as a service has a large footprint in remote places like rural India.

WhatsApp hasn't officially commented on these developments yet. The company, which is testing the collars in the United States, wants to use WhatsApp to send automatic alerts from the collars directly to farmers if say, a cow is not behaving normally, Ilyas said.

Y Combinator president Sam Altman said in an e-mail he was not aware of the WhatsApp test but added: "We do generally see a lot of companies wanting to test their products with YC cos".

One of the start ups involved in the testing, Cowlar, makes dairy collars for cows which include data on how to improve milk yield.

  • Zachary Reyes