WhatsApp releases Business API: What it means for businesses

In a major move, Whatsapp opens up its business API to developers, potentially changing the way thousands of businesses communicate with their customers.

Singapore Business Owners

First Published:
Tech & Innovation

There are many things in life that we wait a lifetime for: your girlfriend to finally get ready, the latest shiny iPhone to finally hit the stores, and WhatsApp to finally get its shit together.

Finally (yes, finally!), WhatsApp for Business released their business API, paving the way for software companies to build productivity solutions that leverage on the widely-used messaging platform.

Leading with no innovation

Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp quickly rose to become the most popular messaging app in the world. In 2014, it was bought over by Facebook for a whopping USD19 billion, one of the largest tech acquisition deal ever made in history.

However, WhatsApp has remained relatively stagnant as competing apps introduced innovative features that made communication a richer experience.

Telegram, a messaging app that is gaining popularity, have features such as polling, pinning messages and a standalone app that does not depend on a mobile phone with an active internet connection. These are features that many secretly wish that WhatsApp can have.

Even China’s WeChat has evolved into an ecosystem that isn’t just about messaging but about broader communication. Peng you quan is essentially a Chinese version of Facebook that lives within WeChat. Beyond covering the social element of communication, there are also tools that help budding entrepreneurs set up in-app stores, share information, engage their audience, communicate with customers and even to transact. The messaging app essentially evolved to include a complete CRM system, which proved effective in helping businesses engage and communicate with their customers.

A WeChat store mockup.
A WeChat store mockup.

There were services that tried to close this CRM gap on behalf of WhatsApp. Adsoup aggregates some of the most popular customer communication channels into a single interface so that you have the information of a customer all in one place. At the moment, Adsoup is making use of Android mobile devices to tether WhatsApp messages directly into their system, thus if you need WhatsApp for Adsoup, you are limited to using Android devices.

It’s a shame that WhatsApp had a great headstart but failed to innovate, apart from the release of WhatsApp for Web and improving the security of the communication by encrypting the messages that are relaying to and from the WhatsApp servers.

Why is this development important?

Now that WhatsApp opened its API doors to developers, it seems like there will be more innovation coming our way, which is going to benefit businesses that predominantly depends on WhatsApp as a communication channel.

One of the most exciting development would be its integration into leading CRM apps. Conversations can be systematically tracked as leads and shared among teams. In the past, sales teams that use CRM to keep track of their client’s birthdays, payment status and buying intentions still have to manually send out texts and reminders. But the API allows CRMs to integrate messaging into workflows to automate reminders and messages, saving sales and business people precious time. Gone will be the days when you have to send out messages one by one.

Now we wait

The ball is now in the various CRM developer’s court to maximise the potential of the API. We’ll have to wait (again) to see how the API will streamline workflows and change the way we manage leads and engage customers. 

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