Facebook updates on WhatsApp payments, ads, and integration with Messenger
Describing ads in WhatsApp a ‘future thing’, Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook is very focused on the consumer experience on the instant messaging platform.
WhatsApp payment will be soon rolled out in more countries after staying in testing phase for over one year in India. Facebook is also planning to bring advertisements to WhatsApp but the feature may take some before the final roll-out.
Responding to questions during Facebook's Q4 2018 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "Messaging is an area that's growing the most quickly. And this year, people are going to feel these apps becoming the center of their social experience in more ways. We're going to roll out Payments on WhatsApp in some more countries. Private sharing in Groups and Stories will become more central to the experience. We're going to onboard millions of more businesses that people can interact with."
WhatsApp had started testing payments services in India in January last year. With about 1 million users testing the service, WhatsApp hasn't launched the payments platform in the country yet. The service has evidently taken a back seat owing to the criticism over its failure to tackle the growing misuse of the platform to spread rumours and fake news.
This, however, hasn't stopped Facebook from trying to monetise the messaging platform. The company opened the platform to businesses and within one year it has about 5 million active businesses on the dedicated WhatsApp Business platform.
It's also now planning to bring advertisements to WhatsApp - a move that has already been criticised by several experts and users. But the roll-out may not be immediate.
"…So WhatsApp, we don't have ads in Stories. It's not available. Ads are something that's more of a future thing for WhatsApp. We remain very focused on the consumer experience there. We do have the WhatsApp Business app, which is helping businesses connect with consumers, and that's growing well but that monetisation opportunity is not available," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg responding to a question.
Messenger, WhatsApp integration
Facebook also explained the motivation behind integrating all of its messaging services including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
According to Zuckerberg, the integration is going to be a "long-term project" and that it'll be "good for user experience."
"The first reason that I'm excited about this is moving more to end-to-end encryption by default in more of our products. People really like this in WhatsApp. I think it's the direction that we should be going in with more things in the future," he said.
"And I think if there's an opportunity to use the work that we've done with WhatsApp there, rather than doing it in different ways in the different messaging experiences, to have that really just - to have encryption work in a consistent way across the different things that we're doing. There are also a number of cases that we see where people tell us that they want to be able to message across the different services," he added.
He also pointed out that a lot of users use Facebook's Marketplace platform while WhatsApp is primary messaging app for communication. Integration will allow WhatsApp users to communicate with a service provider on the market place. Zuckerberg added that the integration will also bring end-to-end encryption for users who have replaced their default SMS app with Facebook Messenger.
"I think moving more towards end-to-end encryption and improving security there is the right direction to go in. There's a lot of questions there that we need to work through. So we're working through this in a deliberative way. And I wouldn't expect anything here to launch soon, but this is definitely something that we're thinking about and that I think will improve the user experience," he explained.