WhatsApp has just announced the launch of the WhatsApp Business API. The new release will allow businesses to programatically send shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets.

Since launching the free WhatsApp for Business app year ago, reports on consumer satisfaction have systematically been higher. Over 3 million small-to-medium sized businesses are currently reported to be using the feature that allows them to directly and instantly communicate with their consumers avoiding lengthy calls and email reply times.

“Since we launched the WhatsApp Business app people have told us that it’s quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail,”
WhatsApp blog announcement

With the new WhatsApp API, businesses can further scale and optimize their workflow. The application can be deployed on a server, providing a local API that allows clients to send and respond to customer service inquiries through their own tools or customer care apps. If your business currently doesn’t have a customer care app or you don’t want to build your own chat client, Sendbee offers solutions that are already integrated with WhatsApp that easily allow you to accept payments for your product and services.

Additional nifty features available with the new API include automated away and welcome messages and Quick Reply that lets you save and reuse frequently asked questions. WhatsApp has also stressed that they remain committed to their user’s privacy and end-to-end encryption between businesses and consumers will remain.

The new release also sees WhatsApp make its first official move to monetizing on its services. Business will be able to respond to customers for free within a 24-hour window, after which they will be charged a fixed fee depending on the recipient’s country.

Finally, WhatsApp have highlighted that their approach to the API is more consumer-driven where users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive. The nature of messages sent by business using the API must be non-promotional such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets. However, there are whispers through the grapevine this will change in the near future making room for ads and promotions.

Stay tuned for further updates.