Never use your phone to speak to a human again.
A year after outlining its plans to give the platform customer service functionality, WhatsApp has revealed how businesses will be able to communicate with users via verified accounts. A green check badge — not dissimilar to the ones found on Facebook and Twitter — next to a contact name means the phone number belongs to a business account. You’ll also know when you start talking to a business through the app, as messages will appear in yellow. The feature is currently in beta for a small number of businesses participating in a pilot program.
The move represents the Facebook-owned company’s first real attempt at monetizing its service. It’s not clear exactly how this will work yet, although CEO Jan Koum has noted in the past that businesses, not users, will foot the bill. And it seems the platform will extend beyond basic broadcast marketing and basic customer assistance. In a blog post from 2016 Koum hypothesized WhatApp’s billion daily users communicating with banks about potentially fraudulent transactions, or an airline about delayed flights. This is already happening on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, so expansion onto one of the world’s largest messaging platforms was simply a matter of time.