Every coin has two sides. For Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), the positive side says that it has launched interesting, new features to further its reach among the users. The other side has ‘trust issues’ engraved upon it.
Let us traverse through the sunny side of things first!
Facebook has now announced a new way for businesses to store and manage their WhatsApp chats with customers, using their secure hosting infrastructure, which is set to roll out early next year. In what is the modish move aimed at monetizing WhatsApp, Facebook will act as the hosting provider to a business, using the messages it processes on behalf of and at the instruction of the business.
Facebook has, for some time, been looking to pull in small and medium businesses to interface with the wider world. With a global presence in WhatsApp, the 2 billion strong people using its services and approx. 50 million businesses on it make it an immensely strong proposition.
The features, which can be surmised in three major ones, will simplify and provide a way forward to shop for and pay for goods and services in WhatsApp chats. Major new features introduced by the web goliath are the In-Chat Shopping, Hosting Services, along with the more obvious charging by the tiers.
Facebook has been trying to amplify the ways for businesses to display what they are selling on Facebook and Instagram for some time now. It became evident with the launch of Facebook Shop in August. With the announcement of the launch of new services, Facebook has moved further to become a platform of branding, marketing, selling and support.
The first among the new features is In-Chat Shopping. In addition to adding a “buy” button in certain places, it sounds like a new way for businesses to use WhatsApp both to link through to Facebook-native catalogues and other products, purchase items, while still staying in the chat.
The introduction of their hosting services in a fragmented market spells a golden opportunity for a huge company like Facebook. With flourishing connections to other online services for the targeted SMB, it seems that this is the next step ahead for the company’s ambitions to bring payments into the chat flow of its messaging app.
Businesses will also have to cough up to Facebook now, as it seeks to bring in charging tiers to the services it offers, providing benefits of a free end-to-end encrypted text, video, and voice calling, removing unnecessary advertisements as its commitment to the loyal businesses.
Trust: The Biggest Competitor Of Facebook
Expansions anew aside, the lingering questions about data security and targeted advertisements still persist. Facebook, for one, has been stumbling down the rung for some time now. Consistently being voted down in polls, being embroiled in scandals, to ever-growing din to police its policy implementation, Facebook has endured for its actions.
With the Zuckerberg-led company now offering services to businesses no less, it should be ready to back it up with a solid policy on its back end.
All’s we’re saying is, it is no doubt a shrewd move as COO Sheryl Sandberg leading the call on this is quite a hint. But don’t jump in with your eyes closed.
Offering business services can be a key way to diversify its business model and squarely aim at power users and businesses leveraging each other in a more efficient way.
While we hope everything pans out smoothly, facilitated by one centerpiece in WhatsApp, businesses, verify before joining the bandwagon.
Stay tuned to this space for more updates.