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As WhatsApp starts sharing data with Facebook, some brands see dollar signs

The announcement was viewed as a betrayal by users who pointed out that WhatsApp’s founders promised the Facebook deal would not affect privacy on WhatsApp.

But while WhatsApp’s 1 billion users adjust to the news, some marketers are already seeing dollar signs. Brands, they say, will be able to deliver WhatsApp users receipts, shipping updates and urgent messages — for example, information about a delay to their upcoming flight.

But while unlocking the “black box” of WhatsApp’s encrypted data is tempting, some caution that brands who make the first step with the platform risk a negative reaction from consumers. They must decide if it’s a risk they can’t afford to miss.

The ‘death of apps’

It turns out service brands are already using the platform to answer customer queries. Dutch bank ABN AMRO receives an average of 3,000 messages via WhatsApp each week, despite promoting the channel very little, said Jeroen van de Ven, the bank’s social media manager.

“[WhatsApp] has finally realized it’s time to open it in an official way,” he said. According to van de Ven, WhatsApp’s current spam policy has made it difficult for brand users wanting to send out high volumes of messages. But if this is changed, they will be able to treat WhatsApp as seriously as other customer service channels like Facebook and Twitter.

For the full story on Digiday, click here.