Facebook to charge for WhatsApp Business services

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is being censored in China as the Communist Party congress gets underway.

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Facebook said Thursday it will start charging companies for some its WhatsApp Business chat services.

WhatsApp Business allows small and medium businesses to chat with customers, provide support and sell products directly. Facebook said it will soon offer services like hosting, to help partners manage chat messages with clients, inventory and more. WhatsApp Business has more than 50 million business users and that 175 million people around the world message a business each day.

Facebook has struggled to generate meaningful revenue from WhatsApp, which it acquired for $16 billion in 2014, and primarily relies on advertising in Facebook and Instagram to generate revenue. It’s one of Facebook’s acquisitions that’s under scrutiny by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, which determined earlier this month that Facebook wields monopoly power in social networking.

Facebook told CNBC it charges businesses to send certain messages to customers, like boarding passes or product receipts, but that costs vary on market and quantity of messages sent. It didn’t provide details on what additional services it plans to charge for, or how much they’ll cost.

Facebook said it will use some of the revenue from business sales to continue to offer free services to its more than two billion WhatsApp users.

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