Instant messaging app WhatsApp plans to keep its service offering free of cost for some time. According to a Livemint report, the company’s vice-president for business development Neeraj Arora confirmed that WhatsApp is not charging any fee from the 70 million users in India because of low debit and credit card penetration that would hamper online payments.
WhatsApp is not levying any charge on developing economies for now, but is charging users in developed markets in North America and Europe an annual $1 fee. Speaking about their business in India, Arora said ” Monetization is on the cards. It will happen over the next few years.”
The report shedding light on the possible channels of revenue for WhatsApp, states that advertising cannot creep into the messenger as competitors would take over immediately. “The day you put ads on WhatsApp, others such as Viber would take over. The reason why it (WhatsApp) is so popular is because it is ad-free,” Vishal Tripathi, principal research analyst at Gartner Inc said in the report.
Therefore, the only healthy way to monetise is by charging utility fee. “If we are like a utility, people will pay (the $1 annual fee. But the mode of payment needs to be convenient,” Tripathi said.
WhatsApp has 600 million active user worldwide who use the application at least once a month. Today, WhatsApp has also rolled out a new feature that turns the double click (comes next to your message) color from grey to blue, indicating that the message has finally been opened and read. The instant messaging app is also set to get the voice calling feature sometime next year.