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According to a report tabled by the Wireless Applications Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (WASPA), SMS advertising is still a critical tool for direct marketing and other communications in South Africa.

SMS direct marketing hasn’t decreased in any other market where people have moved to over-the-top services for messaging,” said James McNab, the Chair of WASPA during a recent media briefing held in Johannesburg.

It is astonishing that in South Africa, SMS still remains one of the most relevant ways of communication via cell phone, given the proliferation of over-the-top (OTT) instant messaging (IM) apps.

When asked if the new WhatsApp Business API could replace SMS for businesses looking to market their products. McNab said, “Let’s see.” McNab said it was not possible to predict if the new WhatsApp Business API will disrupt the popularity of SMS communication in South Africa. Since the API was launched everywhere at once, and there isn’t exactly a mature market to be used as an example of how a new API impacts SMS.

In six months we will have a more comprehensive answer,” said McNab.

WhatsApp Business API

In August 2018, WhatsApp launched its Business API. Giving companies the option of integrating the popular IM app to their messaging options to clients. It was reported that WhatsApp will allow businesses to respond to clients using the API for free for a period of up to 24 hours.

After expiry of the free period, WhatsApp will begin charging a fixed rate per message. The prices will be different in every country. And the businesses will send messages to only people who initiated a conversation with them. Not just anyone on their contact list.

It was also reported that WhatsApp will begin showing ads on the status screen from next year.

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