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Beyond messages: WhatsApp offers new features, such as choosing a seat on an airplane and ordering food

The application will allow companies to offer a variety of services and the user won’t have to leave the chat to access them

WhatsApp
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M. G. Pascual

WhatsApp continues its process of transformation into a complete application. “In the coming weeks,” the company will launch new functions aimed at letting the user perform activities in the application that go far beyond writing messages in a chat. For example, choosing a seat on the train, ordering food or booking an appointment or table, all through customizable templates that each business can tailor to their needs.

“This gives businesses the ability to create tailored experiences in their conversations with customers. So, for example, a bank can build a way for customers to book an appointment to open a new account, a food delivery service can build a way to place any order from any of their partner restaurants or an airline can build a way to check in for a flight and pick a seat, all without having to leave the chat thread,” explained Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a presentation in Mumbai, India.

The goal is for users not to leave WhatsApp, for them to be able to do more tasks within the application. “People will be able to do things much more quickly and conveniently, without having to jump to other apps or websites to carry out their activities,” Zuckerberg said. The more time people spend on WhatsApp and the more activities they can carry out in the application, the better the paid version sold to companies will be.

Meta is also working on a company verification system that, like X (formerly Twitter), will display a blue seal for companies that register and prove their authenticity. The goal is to help users feel more confident that they are interacting with the right interlocutor. This step is important for ensuring that WhatsApp can gradually become an application through which we not only communicate but also make purchases (the same way one can with China’s WeChat app).

These new features are being added to other ones related to WhatsApp’s payment service, which is currently only available in India, Brazil, and Singapore. However, according to company sources, Meta wants to expand the service to additional countries in the future.

Since September this year, Meta’s app has had WhatsApp broadcast channels up and running in 150 countries. They are the equivalent of Telegram channels, large distribution lists to which users can subscribe, even if the sender and recipient do not know each other. This is the same thing as on the X app, where it is common to follow people or organizations with whom one does not interact.

Rumors of advertising on the application

Zuckerberg did comment on the rumor that WhatsApp is planning to introduce advertising into its instant messaging service. Last week, The Financial Times reported that the app was considering the use of ads on WhatsApp; the article cited internal sources and the company’s need to increase revenue.

“We cannot take responsibility for every conversation that each of our workers has, but we are not testing [the use of advertising on WhatsApp]. We are not working on it, and it is not in our plans,” Meta spokesman Joshua Breckman told EL PAÍS.

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