Facebook said that it may consider allowing businesses to send messages to users of WhatsApp as a form of business-to-consumer chat.
The messaging tool, similar to the one being offered to business in Messenger, could be a new attempt for Facebook in trying to monetize its acquisition of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has largely resisted from the usual ways of generating revenue such as publishing advertisements and making certain features accessible only to paying users. This is why, despite the massive growth that WhatsApp is seeing in its user base, it has been struggling to make money.
"We think that enabling that B2C [business-to-consumer] messaging has good business potential for us," said David Wehner, CFO of Facebook, as the feature is being rolled out for Messenger.
Wehner adds that as the company learns from implementing the feature on Messenger, there could be an opportunity for the messaging tool to be brought to WhatsApp, among other things. However, Wehner said that the time frame for such moves is more long-term.
Wehner issued the comments during a technology conference this week.
Facebook has started implementing business-to-consumer messaging on Messenger, allowing companies and customers to chat regarding things such as order details and product queries.
Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated the feature. Zuckerberg showed how users can see advertisements for a certain product then pay for the said item through Messenger. Customers will then receive the receipt through the B2C tool, along with any required followup service from the company.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a total consideration of $22 billion, and the messaging service has blossomed under Facebook's wing. WhatsApp now boasts 800 million average monthly users, slowly approaching the number of 1 billion average monthly users that Zuckerberg said is the level at which WhatsApp can begin becoming meaningful for Facebook.
WhatsApp has not, however, been able to translate its massive user base into profits yet. Facebook said in the company's financial results released in October of last year that WhatsApp generated revenues of $16 million over the first half of 2014, but resulted in losses of $232 million.
WhatsApp is more of an alternative to traditional text messages, with the service allowing users to avoid international charges for cellular data. Messenger, on the other hand, is more of a chat service for multiple users, in which Facebook has added several e-commerce services and gaming functions.