Meta rolls out Meta Verified for WhatsApp Business users in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Colombia

Meta on Thursday said it is rolling out its Meta Verified program for WhatsApp Business users in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Colombia, and eventually to more countries. Subscription plans for this service start from $14 a month.

The company is also adding more features to its messaging service for businesses, and letting companies use their APIs to service customers over calls inside of the app.

Meta launched its verification program for creators in March 2023 and extended it to businesses in September 2023. The program was limited to Facebook and Instagram until now.

The company said merchants who subscribe to the plan on WhatsApp will get a badge and impersonation protection after sharing their business’ details with the company. These businesses will also get a verified WhatsApp channel for their marketing.

The plan also lets businesses use their WhatsApp Business account from multiple devices. Plus, they get to create a custom web page with their business’ details that they can share with customers or vendors.

WhatsApp already offers some of these features with WhatsApp Premium, which it started testing with a few businesses in some regions in 2022, but never extended the rollout to other markets.

Meta is also introducing the ability for users to call large businesses using WhatsApp through APIs — such as banks or airlines. For users, this will work like calling a customer support number, but through the app. Until now, WhatsApp Business users had to use their personal phone numbers to service customer calls.

WhatsApp said it would charge companies for this service, but it hasn’t revealed any pricing details yet.

Focus on businesses

Also incoming is a personalized messaging service for businesses that lets merchants send messages like coupon codes, information on new launches, or birthday wishes to customers.

With more than 200 million monthly users on WhatsApp Business, Meta is trying to build a full suite of solutions that businesses can tap for communicating with their customers. Meta separately also said it is launching new AI-powered tools for automated customer support and ad creation today.

Click-to-WhatsApp ads have worked well for Meta. In 2023, Zuckerberg said that these ads have hit a $10 billion annual run rate and are growing. India-based logistics company Shiprocket has also seen positive results for merchants.

“The introduction of click-to-WhatsApp ads is providing sellers with a more effective marketing channel, yielding a strong return on ad spend (ROAS) of 3-4x, further driving transactions and engagement on the platform,” Praful Poddar, Chief Product Officer at Shiprocket, told TechCrunch.

Meta last year focused on building shopping experiences within WhatsApp, but is now working on messaging and customer support-related features since it is an important cash driver for the company.

During its Q1 2024 earnings call, the company’s CFO, Susan Li, noted that Meta’s family of apps generated revenue of $380 million, largely driven by business messaging on WhatsApp.

In a study Meta recently released with Bain & Co, it said there is a massive opportunity in conversation commerce in India, since out of 650 million users active on social media and messaging platforms, only 200 million people shop online. The company said existing commerce and payment services only cater to the top 200 million users. With WhatsApp, which has more than 400 million users in India, the company sees a huge opportunity to get more merchants on board and facilitate shopping for the rest of the user base.

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