WhatsApp said Wednesday that it's expanding the ways businesses can connect with people on the popular Facebook-owned messaging app. But businesses will have to pay to send certain messages, marking the free app's first major move to pull in revenue.
Businesses will be able to do things like provide real-time customer service and send information like boarding passes or shipping confirmations, WhatsApp wrote in a blog post. The company also said messages will remain "end-to-end encrypted" and that users will be able to block businesses.
Companies will pay between a half a penny and 9 cents for every message delivered to a potential customer, reported The Wall Street Journal. WhatsApp will also reportedly be launching ads in its Status feature, a tool similar to Instagram stories.
The new WhatsApp business features come as Facebook's growth decelerates. The social network missed analyst estimates in its quarterly earnings last week, resulting in its stock taking a historic plunge.
WhatsApp's co-founder Jan Koum left the company in April. Kuom reportedly clashed with Facebook, which purchased the app in 2014 for $22 billion, over the social network's attempts to "use its personal data and weaken its encryption."
WhatsApp declined to comment. Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.