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5,400% growth forecast for enterprises using WhatsApp Business APIs

Unprecedented and extraordinary growth forecast for business version of WhatsApp, with growth from just 992 to 55,000 users expected over the next five years

WhatsApp’s business version is now the most in-demand rich messaging channel among brands and businesses looking to communicate with more than two billion WhatsApp users, according to research from Mobilesquared.

WhatsApp Business application programming interfaces (APIs) are currently available from more than 60 partners, and permit inbound traffic (such as customer care enquiries initiated by customers via WhatsApp), and outbound traffic (such as updates and alerts sent to customers who have already contacted a business via WhatsApp).

The survey from the business messaging specialist, WhatsApp Business messaging traffic & spend forecasts, by country & region (2019-24), notes that what makes WhatsApp so attractive to businesses is its scale. Mobilesquared said that the 10 markets with the most spend – India, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, Mexico, the US, Argentina, the UK, Russia and Italy – together accounted for 68% of the total spend in 2019.

As of the end of 2019, India was the largest WhatsApp market with 432 million users, followed by Indonesia, Brazil, Russia and the US. These markets combined accounted for 41% of total global users.

The survey estimated that WhatsApp Business will experience unprecedented growth of more than 5,400% among medium and large businesses looking to use its API. The findings are based on research involving all the major omnichannel messaging providers.

Although still dwarfed by the WhatsApp standard app, which is expected to see user numbers top 3.1 billion in 2024, up from 1.96 billion in 2019, if such growth was realised for WhatsApp Business, it would grow from 992 users at the end of 2019 to almost 55,000 by 2024.

That growth would also see total enterprise spend on WhatsApp Business by medium and large businesses grow from $38.7m in 2019 to $3.6bn by 2024, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 151%.

Mobilesquared believes 5.25 million small and micro businesses were using the free WhatsApp Business app at the end of 2019, and it expects this number to rise to almost 7 million by 2024.

It predicts that most of the business messaging traffic generated over WhatsApp will be inbound traffic (also referred to as P2A or person-2-application), making WhatsApp Business the go-to messaging channel for customer care.

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Latin America will have the biggest proportion of WhatsApp users as a percentage of total smartphones, rising from about 80% now to almost 95% in 2024, according to the research. After Latin America, the regions with the highest penetration of WhatsApp users as a percentage of smartphone users in 2024 will be Western Europe, Africa and Eastern Europe.

“What we are starting to identify from our research across SMS, RCS and now WhatsApp is that different messaging channels will be used for particular use cases and services,” said Gavin Patterson, chief data analyst at Mobilesquared. “WhatsApp is the only rich messaging channel that businesses currently want to know about, but that is in the context of P2A communications between a consumer and a brand.

“What we expect to emerge in the coming years is that outbound A2P traffic will centre on SMS and RCS, with inbound P2A traffic split between WhatsApp, ABC and RCS – with WhatsApp likely to become a dominant force. By the end of this year, WhatsApp users will account for almost one in every two smartphones worldwide and, by 2024, that figure will be almost three in every five.”

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