Businesses can now communicate directly with their customers using WhatsApp’s new service.

Meta has launched more shopping-focused features on the messaging system, among other platforms.

This cloud-based software permits apps to communicate between each other, which will make WhatsApp more accessible to businesses and free for smaller firms.

Meta’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said the new development would help companies customize their experiences.

At the announcement of the new service, he said, “the best business experiences meet people where they are.”

Over 1 billion users access a business account each week through their messaging services.

“They’re reaching out for help to find products and services and to buy anything from big-ticket items to everyday goods.”

Application programming interfaces (APIs) facilitate communication between two apps.

In this case, customers would be able to launch a WhatsApp conversation by clicking on, for instance, “customer service” on a company website.

Customers will be able to chat with businesses more easily and businesses will be able to customize their dashboards.

With the API, businesses can engage in customer-service chats on Meta, generating revenue for the company.

One way WhatsApp makes money is by charging per message.

The non-cloud version was previously used by tens of thousands of businesses, including Vodafone, BMW and KLM.

Business users will not be able to message people on WhatsApp unless they have requested contact from Meta, which bought WhatsApp for $19bn in 2014.

As part of a new premium service, WhatsApp plans to offer optional paid features.

The features, which are currently being developed, will allow businesses to manage chats across up to 10 devices and include clicking-to-chat links that customers can share.

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