It should be recalled that WhatsApp hasn’t always been completely free at least for iOS users. At the time, they had to part with a one-time fee of $1 to download the app, which in 2013 was replaced by a more universal, subscription-like model where new users were charged the same amount after a year of free usage. This all changed in 2016, the messaging service went the freeware route, scrapping all forms of payments. Recent hints spotted in the app last month pointed toward WhatsApp working on an optional subscription WhatsApp Premium for Business users with some additional features.
While it’s known that one of them is extended multi-device support, another premium feature has come to the fore today. WABetaInfo has discovered from piecing together the Android, iOS, and desktop betas that WhatsApp is planning to offer the ability to create a custom vanity link for their accounts. Potential customers would tap on or otherwise access the link and be able to fire up a chat with the subscribed Business account as part of their WhatsApp Premium offering. The URLs would follow the wa.me/<business-name> format, making them an ideal addition to your business’s site contact page, especially if the primary website has a less-than-ideal domain name.
That’s not to say that businesses couldn’t already create links that redirected to their WhatsApp, but using the wa.me domain would signal to users that they can at least trust the platform the business is hosted on via WhatsApp Premium. Account managers will be able to change the custom name once every 90 days.
You’ll notice the liberal use of the word “premium” referring to the plan as you can see in the above screenshots. But while we’re pretty confident about the name “WhatsApp Premium,” we won’t know until it’s official. The paid feature will be exclusive to WhatsApp Business accounts and optional even at that. There’s nothing that points toward WhatsApp Business as a whole being paywalled in the near future, so shop owners can thank their good graces for that.