Telegram founder Pavel Durov announced Wednesday that users on the chat app with personal accounts can now convert them into business accounts by paying a monthly fee. This gives users the ability to list information such as location and opening hours, which might be helpful for small cafes and shop owners.

Some of the other features for business accounts involve organizing chats with color labels, using automatic greetings or away messages, and shortcuts for quick replies. On his channel, Durov said that Telegram plans to launch more business features this month including a way to integrate AI-powered chatbots for customer service.

“Telegram Business accounts will be able to seamlessly add chatbots as their invisible secretaries to respond to all or certain chats. With AI, these chatbots can bring customer service automation to an entirely new level,” he said.

Telegram is trying to compete with WhatsApp Business, which crossed the mark of 200 million monthly active users last year, with these new features. However, a major differentiation is that Telegram is charging a subscription fee to use business features, while WhatsApp relies on the type of conversations and frequency of chats to generate revenue.

Meta-owned WhatsApp introduced many business-facing features last year including personalized customer messages and flows to complete e-commerce transactions without leaving the app.

Over the last two years, Telegram has focused on increasing its business through premium subscriptions, self-custodial crypto wallet, and auction of premium usernames. The chat app, which has more than 800 million users across the globe, is also planning to launch its ad platform this month with a revenue-sharing program for channels.


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