WhatsApp introduces commercial services as Meta, its parent, seeks fresh revenue.

More than eight years after agreeing to buy one of the world’s largest messaging apps, the company formerly known as Facebook has decided to start making money from it.

WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said on Thursday that it was opening up commercial services to those who want to use the messaging app to power their businesses. It was WhatsApp’s largest step toward making money from the service, which is used by more than a billion people globally.

The new initiative lets business owners access the WhatsApp Cloud Application Programming Interface, a way to build a custom dashboard on top of the WhatsApp software so they can chat with customers and offer customer services more easily.

“This is an important step to help more businesses connect with people and help more people message the businesses that they want to support — big and small,” Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, said at an event announcing the new service.