The WhatsApp messenger service owned by Facebook will start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages, it said on Wednesday, as the social network company’s flagship brand faces slowing usage and revenue growth.
According to WhatsApp, messages will be charged at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country.
Facebook has been looking at ways to make money with its WhatsApp service in the face of rising costs as Facebook spends heavily to improve privacy and tackles concerns about social media addiction.
WhatsApp said, starting Wednesday, businesses can use its WhatsApp Business API to send notifications to customers with information on shipping confirmations, appointment reminders and event tickets.
WhatsApp acknowledged that it is charging a premium price compared to SMS rates. Mobile Telecoms typically charge businesses below a penny per SMS, and the price is still close to a penny when including fees collected by intermediaries between telecoms and businesses.
In January, WhatsApp had announced it would start allowing small businesses to communicate through the WhatsApp Business application, which has over 3 million active users. Matt Idema, Chief operating officer said a time in the future, WhatsApp intends to charge businesses.
Facebook also mentioned on Wednesday that users on its namesake app and Instagram can now see the amount of time they spend on the app each day and receive notifications when they exceed a a certain time threshold. Users also can mute notifications from the apps for up to eight hours.