WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging application that allows users to send text, voice messages, make voice and video calls, share images, documents, and other media files. Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has grown to become one of the most popular messaging platforms with over 2 billion monthly active users in 2021. Although WhatsApp was initially free, the company has introduced several revenue-generating features over the years. In this article, we will explore how WhatsApp generates money.
- Subscription Fees
When WhatsApp was first launched, it was available for free to all users. However, in 2016, WhatsApp introduced a subscription fee for some users. The subscription fee was introduced as a way to monetize the platform and provide better service to users. The subscription fee was only applicable to users who had been using the platform for more than a year, and it was a one-time fee of $0.99.
However, the subscription fee was short-lived and was discontinued in 2018. WhatsApp announced that it would no longer charge any subscription fees and would be completely free for all users.
- Business Accounts
WhatsApp launched its Business API in 2018, allowing businesses to connect with their customers on the platform. The WhatsApp Business API provides businesses with a range of features such as automated messaging, messaging templates, and the ability to integrate with third-party applications. The API is available to businesses of all sizes, and they are charged a fee for using the service.
The fees charged by WhatsApp vary depending on the country and the volume of messages sent by the business. The fees are calculated based on a cost-per-message model, where businesses are charged a fixed amount for each message sent to their customers. This revenue stream has been a significant contributor to WhatsApp’s revenue since its launch.
- WhatsApp Payments
WhatsApp launched its payment feature in India in 2018, allowing users to send and receive money through the app. The payment feature is integrated with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payment infrastructure developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
The payment feature allows users to send money to other WhatsApp users, pay for goods and services, and make payments to businesses. WhatsApp charges a fee for each transaction made through the app. However, WhatsApp has faced regulatory hurdles in India, and the feature is not yet available globally.
In 2019, WhatsApp announced that it would start displaying advertisements in the Status section of the app. The Status section is similar to the Stories feature on Instagram, and users can share photos, videos, and text with their contacts. WhatsApp plans to show ads between the Status updates, and the ads will be targeted based on the user’s interests and behavior.
However, WhatsApp has faced significant backlash from users and privacy advocates regarding the ads. The company has delayed the launch of the ads, and it is not clear when they will be rolled out.
- Enterprise Solutions
WhatsApp also offers enterprise solutions to businesses, allowing them to communicate with their customers through the platform. The enterprise solutions include WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API, which we have discussed earlier.
In addition to these solutions, WhatsApp offers a range of other enterprise services such as customer support, customer engagement, and customer acquisition. The company charges businesses for these services based on a subscription model, and the fees vary depending on the services required by the business.
WhatsApp has several revenue-generating features that have helped it generate money over the years. While the platform was initially free, it has since introduced several revenue streams such as business accounts, payment services, and enterprise solutions. These revenue streams have helped the company generate significant revenue and continue to expand its services globally. However, the company has faced challenges regarding privacy and regulatory hurdles, which have impacted its revenue streams.