Facebook launches WhatsApp Business for iPhones

WhatsApp Business will be rolled out around the world in the coming weeks. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - Facebook on Thursday (April 4) launched a business version of its WhatsApp messaging app for Apple's iOS, more than a year after the service was rolled out for Android users.

WhatsApp Business will be available for free downloads from the App Store in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Britain and the United States starting on Thursday and will be rolled out around the world in the coming weeks, WhatsApp said in a blog post.

The app, which allows small businesses to communicate with customers through the platform, currently has over five million users.

As part of its move to make money from WhatsApp, the company had said in August that it would start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country.

Facebook has encouraged messaging conversations between businesses and consumers since at least 2016 but has not disclosed its revenue from the efforts.

Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has increasingly shifted the company's focus to messaging and private chats and last month said Facebook would encrypt conversations on more of its messaging services, while making them compatible across platforms.

Facebook is one of the biggest global players in private messaging, with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram services, each having more than a billion users.

However, only WhatsApp currently encrypts conversations.

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