For the past few years, WhatsApp has remained a primary medium for a multitude of small as well as medium scale businesses to connect with their 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 app is rolling out around the world in the coming weeks", said the company. For starters, it allows creating quick replies, automated messages for when the moderator is away and even set up a welcome message for when a user contacts it the first time.
Companies will also be able to review metrics like message reads.
WhatsApp has been increasingly wooing businesses of late, recently announcing it was to start verifying business accounts, while a year ago it announced it was working on a new business-focused app. These will be a green badge with a tick mark for "verified" accounts where WhatsApp has verified that the brand owns the account, a grey badge with a tick mark for "confirmed" accounts indicating that the phone number listed is valid business phone number, and a grey badge with a question mark for the rest. Over time, WhatsApp says it will equip some businesses with "Confirmed Accounts", likely a similar feature to Twitter's verification process, once the company's phone number has been validated.
Another important point is that users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam. Presumably, they'll be built on top of the current WhatsApp Business core product.
Looking at the massive size of its user base, Facebook bought WhatsApp, in 2014 for about $19 billion. According to data it cited from Morning Consult's research, over 80 percent of small businesses in India and Brazil said that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers and grow their businesses. WhatsApp didn't offer an ETA on when the Business app would rollout to worldwide markets, or when an iOS version would arrive.