Facebook is planning to make money on WhatsApp with business chat features

Key Points
  • An executive with Facebook's WhatsApp unit says the messaging service will eventually charge businesses to contact uses.
  • WhatsApp didn't reveal when the paid features will launch.
  • Businesses will be able to chat with WhatsApp users who agree to be contacted.
Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum
David Ramos | Getty Images

Facebook's WhatsApp unit will eventually start charging companies to contact its users, a person close to the company says, as the social media firm looks to make money from its chat products.

WhatsApp, which said in August it has 1.3 billion users, has begun testing tools that could allow businesses to offer sales and support services to its users who agree to be contacted.

The features include a separate WhatsApp application for businesses that are verified by the company.

In a blog post Tuesday, WhatsApp wrote that business chat services are coming in various tiers.

"We're building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks," the company wrote.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and has yet to focus on turning the popular chat app into a money maker.

WhatsApp said last year it would eventually begin testing tools that could let users communicate with companies via secure messages, part of a broader overhaul to make the service more business friendly.

The features are being tested by companies in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing an interview with WhatsApp's chief operating officer, Matt Idema.

Idema didn't describe the paid features to the paper or say when they would be rolled out.

"We don't have the details of monetization figured out," Idema told the Journal.