WhatsApp starts rolling out new app for small businesses

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WhatsApp's push to get more businesses to use its platform, so it can finally rake in cash from its 1.3 billion users, now includes a full-fledged business app.

WhatsApp Business profiles will offer information in the form of business description in addition to email, store addresses and website. WhatsApp users will know when they are being contacted by a business rather than an individual, as it will be listed as a business account. The app will also measure simple engagement metrics to help businesses understand their WhatsApp presence.

WhatsApp Business could be a big boon in developing nations, where more informal platforms, like WhatsApp, are used by small businesses to advertise, liaise and sell to customers.

WhatsApp Business is making its debut, unusually, on Android and is available to download from today in the UK, US, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico.

The company says WhatsApp Business will have multiple benefits. It will also save time with smart messaging tools - quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you're busy.

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People will be able to continue using WhatsApp as usual, with no need to download anything new.

Messaging application WhatsApp said yesterday it would begin allowing business accounts for the first time, a step that brings the free service closer to a plan that would make money for its corporate parent, Facebook. Being a standalone app, you can keep your business and personal messages separate. And over 80% of the users in India and Brazil already use WhatsApp for business purposes. All of the same features will remain, including blocking any numbers.

It's created to make it easier for them to communicate with customers and manage their orders.

Shortly afterwards, WhatsApp published an FAQ page, which clears up any potential confusion around the app.

WhatsApp Business is now available to small business owners in the U.S., the U.K., Mexico Italy and Indonesia. It is not yet available in India and will be made available in the coming weeks, according to a WhatsApp blog post.