WhatsApp just found a way to make money
WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging app on Earth right now. While it is free to use presently, it hasn’t been the case always. Back in 2009, when WhatsApp launched, the company charged iOS users a $1 premium to use the service. It was later replaced with a freemium model in 2013, wherein all the users (Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone users) had to pay a yearly fee of $1 to use the service. However, soon after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the messaging service went the freeware route allowing all the users to use the messaging platform at no cost.
WhatsApp has stayed free ever since. But, we all know that in this day and age, a business has to make some money in order to survive. WhatsApp announced a while back that it would start showing ads in the ‘Status’ (read stories) section of the app, and now a new report from the reliable WhatsApp source WABetaInfo suggests that the company has found a new way to make some more dollars.
According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is exploring a subscription plan for business accounts. Currently, WhatsApp Business is free to use for everyone (and anyone), but the company is planning to offer an optional WhatsApp Premium subscription plan to the business users that would give them access to some exclusive features. The report claims that WhatsApp Business will always remain free, but if the business opt-in for these additional features, WhatsApp will charge them a fee.
One of the features that the WhatsApp Premium would offer is expanded support for the multi-device feature. Currently, you can link only up to 4 devices when using the multi-device feature, but if you subscribe to the WhatsApp Premium plan, you will be able to link up to 10 additional devices as per WABetanfo. The leaked WhatsApp screenshot also reveals some of the use cases (for businesses) this feature will help in, such as allowing multiple customer support representatives to talk to a single user. In addition, businesses will also be able to rename the devices to remember them easily — something that is not possible for normal users at the moment.
Another feature that WhatsApp would bundle as a part of its Premium features is the ability to create custom links. WhatsApp currently allows business users to create short links so that their users can directly contact them by opening the link, but the new Premium feature would allow the business to create a custom, easy-to-remember link. This custom link will remain exclusive to the business, and WABetaInfo also adds that business managers will only be able to change the custom links once every 90 days.
In this day and age, when hundreds (if not thousands) of instant messaging apps are available, it’s been difficult for messaging apps to make money. And it’s not just WhatsApp, other popular instant messaging apps have also been looking at ways of making money. While WhatsApp is targeting business users to make some dollars, Telegram is taking another route. The company will soon start allowing businesses to send “Sponsered Messages” in channels, charging them a fee for doing so. In addition to sponsored messages, the company is reportedly exploring a Discord-like premium tier that will give users access to some exclusive features.
While other messaging apps are starting to charge money from the users for exclusive features (stickers, emoji reactions, high-quality uploads) or are relying on “sponsored content,” WhatsApp is making sure that the experience remains the same for normal users. Instead, it is (sort of) turning into a “super-app,” like WeChat, wherein businesses can start using it to promote, sell, and provide support for their products and services. In countries like India and Brazil, the company is also testing its payments platform. While the payment platform is free right now, it might start charging business users some commission if its tests are successful.
All in all, it’s safe to say that WhatsApp is now actively looking to generate some revenue — by showing ads to the users and offering a paid subscription to the businesses. What are your thoughts on WhatsApp offering a Premium plan to business users? Would you, as a normal WhatsApp user, pay a fee to the company for tying more devices to your account? Or is the current 4-device limit enough for you? Let us know in the comments section below!