The prospect of receiving WhatsApp messages from companies will not sit easily with a great deal of users / iStock

The feature is designed to help the app make money

WhatsApp is working on a new feature that businesses can use to contact customers directly, according to a new report.

The feature, which is being tested by a number of Y Combinator startups, is designed as a way for the the messaging app to make money.

Businesses could end up paying WhatsApp for the ability to get in touch with potential customers, according to Reuters, which adds that the Facebook-owned firm is wary of spam potentially becoming an issue.

According to Cowlar Inc., a company that makes data-collecting collars for dairy cows, it would use WhatsApp to alert farmers if a cow wasn’t behaving as it should.

However, the prospect of receiving WhatsApp messages from companies will not sit easily with a great deal of users.

Promotional emails from companies are difficult enough to deal with and, by their very nature, WhatsApp messages are much more immediate and intrusive.

The messaging app is one of the most popular in the world, and its invasion by businesses may end up turning users to rival services. 

Facebook Messenger has taken a similar approach to the one described above, and that has resulted in the creation of a multitude of business-related chatbots. 

However, the social network has already scaled back its efforts, as the artificial intelligence bots were found to be capable of completing just 30% of requests from users without help from a human. 

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