It came as no surprise when WhatsApp CEO and Facebook board member Jan Koum took to his Facebook account to announce that the Facebook-owned messaging app now has over 900 million monthly active users.
However, what actually is surprising is that with such a huge user base, neither WhatsApp nor Facebook has come up with a solid business model to take advantage of this huge market base. About four months ago, this app had a user base of about 800 million users, which means that in this period over 100 million people have joined the platform. The story had been the same before this increase, with the app registering the same 100 million increments in intervals of three to four months. This is a massive achievement for this application and for sure, only a few apps can ever dream of achieving this huge user base in the present day and age.
WhatsApp will soon start making money
Even though it’s surprising that WhatsApp has yet to make any money from its 900+ million users, what is interesting is that the app will soon start earning lots of cash from the services it offers. As of now, only $0.99 is collected annually from every user who is using the app for the second year running. However, it is very clear that this not part of the earning strategy of Facebook, especially considering that it paid a massive $19 billion to acquire the app.
Following in the words of the app’s owner Mark Zuckerberg that numerous ways of monetizing the app will present themselves once it clocks 1 billion users, it shouldn’t be long before we see a monetization plan for WhatsApp in place. The announcement that WhatsApp has over 900 million users came towards the end of August and if the trend keeps on, we might see the business side of WhatsApp as early as the beginning of 2016.
So, how will WhatsApp be monetized?
Honestly, this debate is still very wide open, especially when you think of it that WhatsApp founders had been specific about their desire to omit ads, games and gimmicks from the app. Nevertheless, the answers can be found in another of the many entities owned by Facebook, the Messenger app.
Facebook seems to be deriving its inspiration from Asian apps such as WeChat and LINE, all of which have implemented amazing business models that are reaping millions for them every year. These apps have grown from just being messaging and calling platforms and they have become major internet portals for millions of people who wish to connect with different brands. Facebook recently introduced a personal digital assistant known as M and with this tool, many expect a lot to come not just the Messenger’s way, but also WhatsApp’s way.
Many tech pundits believe that it would be ideal for Facebook to bring the same business model of Messenger to WhatsApp. The fact that WhatsApp is still struggling for popularity in the U.S. might make this move a little difficult for Facebook; however, if the social networking giant is looking for customers outside the U.S., extending the Facebook Messenger business model to WhatsApp is the most logical step to take.