WhatsApp's upcoming 'enterprise' platform for businesses is already hidden in the app

Jan Koum, WhatsAppDavid Ramos/Getty ImagesWhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum.

WhatsApp’s plan to let businesses directly message its more than one billion users appears to be taking shape.

Multiple references to “enterprise” message templates have been uncovered in WhatsApp’s code, according to the Twitter account “WABetaInfo.” One template would allow a business to send a message that’s translated into the targeted user’s language, for example.

The creator of WABetaInfo couldn’t be reached by Business Insider, but the account claims to have first seen references to structured message templates in WhatsApp’s code after a November update that added GIF support. A WhatsApp spokesperson wasn’t immediately able to comment.

WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $22 billion in 2014, announced its plans to let businesses message users in August 2016.

“We want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam,” a WhatsApp spokesman said at the time.

WhatsApp also updated its privacy policy in August to link with Facebook’s account data — a move that caused significant backlash from users and European regulators who questioned Facebook’s initial commitment to let WhatsApp operate independently.

Facebook started letting businesses message its users on Messenger in April 2016, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that businesses will be able to hook into WhatsApp in 2017. 

Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp encrypts messages by default. WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum has been a strong privacy advocate and staunch opponent of online advertising for years. He once told Forbes that “dealing with ads is depressing … You don’t make anyone’s life better by making advertisements work better.”

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