Photo credit: WhatsApp
Meta’s WhatsApp launched Channels in Singapore today, making it one of the first two markets in the world to offer the new feature, which allows individuals and organizations to send verified news and information to a wide audience.
The messages can take various forms, including text, images, videos, and polls. Channels is an opt-in feature, which means users can choose whom to follow and receive updates, including local officials, global organizations, or sports teams. Users can also leave a channel at any time.
Besides Singapore, Channels is currently only available in Colombia. It will be rolled out to more countries in the coming months.
Last month, WhatsApp enabled in-chat payments in the city-state through a partnership with Stripe.
Clair Deevy, director of social impact at WhatsApp, said there is an “opportunity” for payment services to support channel administrators in the future, but Channels is still in the very early stages of development.
For now, only WhatsApp’s “early access partners” can start a channel.
In Singapore, these include the Ministry of Communications and Information, Land Transport Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Singapore Heart Foundation, which will operate their own channels from this week.
Eventually, any WhatsApp user – be it an individual or an organization – will be able to start their own channel when the feature becomes available in their country.
Followers cannot interact with each other or the administrator on these channels. Channels operate in a one-way manner, meaning only admins can send messages to their followers, and not vice versa.
Channels are also private. An admin’s personal information, including their phone number and profile picture, will not be shown to followers. Likewise, a follower’s phone number will be hidden from others in the channel.
As of 2020, WhatsApp had over 2 billion users worldwide. It has about 4.6 million users in Singapore.
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