Facebook Launches Digital Payments Service For WhatsApp

Earlier this week, Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp, announced that they would be launching a digital payment service that would allow its users to send and receive money via the app, beginning its trial amongst its Brazilian users. Since Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, it’s fair to say that these developments have been a long time coming, and if you have been paying attention, you will see just how big this is about to become. 

In February 2014, social media giant Facebook purchased the messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion. Considering that at the time, the app made little money and was largely popular outside of the US, the acquisition price was astounding. It’s safe to say that people were curious about their plans for the relatively new kid on the block. 

Now, Facebook have announced their more recent plans to capitalise on emerging markets and introduce e-commerce to its current platforms, through the launch of a digital payment service for the rapidly growing messaging app, WhatsApp, to its 120 million users in Brazil.

In a statement, WhatsApp said, “Making payments simple can help bring more businesses into the digital economy, opening up new opportunities for growth”. Making reference to the recent social distancing measures, they said “In addition, we’re making sending money to loved ones as easy as sending a message, which could not be more important as people are physically distant from one another.”

The Growth of Messaging (vs Social Media) 

In 2017, messaging apps were already over 20% bigger than social networks. And in 2019, even Mark Zuckerberg sees private messaging as the future for Facebook and other social platforms.

If you want to see the future of WhatsApp, then look no further than China and WeChat. 

WeChat is one of the most popular free messaging apps in China and provides many features compared to other social messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger. It has developed into one of the best multi-functional and social networking apps in use today. Way back when in 2013, WeChat Pay was introduced as the mobile wallet within the WeChat messaging service. Now, a steady 7 years behind WeChat to the game of digital payments, we can’t help but wonder if Facebook has plans to mirror the other technological advancements that have been developed for WeChat’s 1 billion+ monthly active users by Tencent.

Here’s 3 of the most popular features on WeChat, that us at Colehouse can’t help but predict WhatsApp will attempt to emulate going forward with their developments for the free messaging service:

WeChat Advertising

WeChat offers banner ads that appear at the bottom of articles published by other WeChat official accounts. Advertisers are able to target users by age, gender and location, as well as specify the types of accounts where the banner ads should be displayed. With WeChat banner ads, you can prompt audiences to follow your WeChat account, buy a product, visit a landing page, download an app or claim a discount code.

Currently, WhatsApp does not sell ad space, yet alone has any business-specific features (yet, that is), so businesses operating on the app have to be innovative within their marketing approach. We can’t help but think that with WhatsApp’s most recent announcement, advertising will soon be available on the platform. 

WeChat Shop

WeChat Shop is a mobile website that connects to the menu of the WeChat Official Account. It allows users to access the Shop and use a ‘one-click-payment’ via the WeChat payment feature. WeChat have set themselves apart effectively by merging e-commerce and social media together, making it easier than ever to shop online for users. 

Business Profiles

WeChat is an essential marketing tool for businesses entering into the market in China. Setting up a WeChat official business profile allows brands to reach out to a vast audience and raise awareness in an effective way. Long gone are the days of waiting on hold for hours to get through to a customer service representative, or emailing to receive a response days later; WeChat means that when customers have questions or queries for a business, they expect a quick response via a live chat on the app.

How do I start to build my WhatsApp presence today? 

Text messages have a 97% open rate within 5 minutes – WhatsApp could be a very powerful channel for you. Back in 2014, we were advocating for the use of messenger as part of brand’s digital strategies which you can read here and have successfully activated it as a communications channel for many brands and campaigns.

  • Sign up for WhatsApp Business – use it as a communications channel from today (yes, it’s one more channel to manage, but if it is appropriate for you then you 100% should). Create a business profile with helpful information for your customers such as your address, business description, email address and website. You can list your products and tag conversations categories to help with CRM.
  • Encourage migration and adoption – you can do this in a couple of ways:  incentivise with a competition – this will highlight the fact you’re present and people are able to contact you. Offer a discount on products bought on this channel for a short period. 
  • Keep the channel maintained and updated. Consider setting up flows on automated responses and integrating into your current alerts when customers are trying to ask you something. 
  • Be patient – growing a new channel always takes time. Be consistent in your approach and you will be sure to reap the benefits over time.

The use of WhatsApp for business will absolutely continue to grow over the coming years. According to Nielsen’s Facebook Messaging Survey, 67% of mobile messaging app users said they expect to use chat more for communicating with businesses in the coming years. 53% percent of respondents said that they are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. Is your business doing everything you possibly can to effectively communicate with your customers and clients? You don’t want to be looking back and wishing you had started sooner.