WhatsApp will begin to let businesses directly message its users before the end of 2017, Business Insider reports.
The Facebook-owned company first announced plans to connect its userbase of more than one billion with businesses last August, TechCrunch reports.
WhatApp says dialogue between users and businesses could include things like receipts or delivery tracking, though marketing messages have not been ruled out.
WhatsApp’s move means businesses could soon have a new way to connect with consumers, while giving Facebook a huge new avenue for advertising revenues.
But not everyone supports the idea. When WhatsApp first announced its plan last summer, it sparked complaints from users and European regulators keen on protecting user privacy.
One upside is WhatsApp automatically encrypts messages, which helps protect user privacy. "The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to," the company said when it announced its end-to-end encryption in April. "No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us."