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Facebook said that on Thursday it will start charging companies for some of its WhatsApp business chat services.
WhatsApp Business allows small and medium businesses to chat with customers, provide support and sell products directly. Facebook said it would soon offer services such as hosting, enabling partners to manage chat messages with clients, inventory and more. WhatsApp Business has more than 50 million business users and 175 million people around the world deliver a business message each day.
Facebook has struggled to generate meaningful revenue from WhatsApp, which it acquired for $ 16 billion in 2014, and relies primarily on advertising in Facebook and Instagram to generate revenue. It is one of Facebook’s acquisitions subject to scrutiny by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, which determined earlier this month that Facebook produces monopoly power in social networking.
Facebook told CNBC that it charges businesses to send certain messages to customers, such as boarding passes or product receipts, but the cost in the market and the amount of messages sent vary. It does not provide details of what additional services it plans to charge, or how much they will cost, just to change how it charges businesses.
Facebook said it would use some revenue from the sale of the business to continue offering free services to its more than two billion WhatsApp users.