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WhatsApp for Business to launch in India this year

MUMBAI: Facebook, which bought instant messaging platform WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, is now planning to tap the money-making potential of the app.

The social networking giant is working on a new application, ‘WhatsApp for Business’, a platform that will allow small businesses to download a different version of the app and engage with a large number of WhatsApp users. It is still in the design and testing phase.

Brian Acton-kfVE“We built this for India… and the users can give us feedback on how to make this product better, and then we will take it to Brazil and Indonesia. This is for very small businesses, employing less than 10 people, and they are asking for a mobile client, which will help them manage businesses in an easier manner, whether it is about managing customer contact lists or multi-agent support. It is too early to say how WhatsApp for Business will make money off the new platform,” said WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

WhatsApp for Business is said to debut in India this year. Acton, who is on a one-day trip to India, met with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss ways in which the company can contribute to India’s vision for digital commerce.

In India, many small businesses already use WhatsApp. The upcoming app will allow the business owners to send targeted messages and videos.

Said Acton, “There would be no compromise with regard to the simplicity of the platform. We have this long-standing theme—no ads, no games, and no gimmicks.”

Currently, 200 million Indians use WhatsApp to connect with their friends, family and communities. “We build every WhatsApp feature to be simple, reliable and secure, and this vision is in line with what Digital India promises to achieve. We will continue to invest to help more people across India connect to its platform,” he added.

Talking about his meeting with the WhatsApp boss, the minister tweeted, “Brian Acton, the co-founder of @WhatsApp and a fine mind in the field of information technology, met me today. I also appreciated the good role of platforms like @facebook, @WhatsApp are playing in the field of digital empowerment.”

Acton and WhatsApp head of business Neeraj Arora are slated to address students at IIT-Delhi later this evening.

Earlier this week, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella was in town to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prasad to discuss the company’s digital inclusion programme, which leverages technology for improving rural healthcare and education.