Last year Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a staggering $19 Billion. Facebook is an ad-centric business which generates billions of dollars in revenues. The two major questions following the news was how Facebook will recoup its investment as Whatsapp is ad free and relied on a $1 annual subscription fee for revenues and If Whatsapp was going to introduce ads in line with Facebook‘s business model. So far only the latter has been answered with commitment from Facebook’s CEO on the same.
A few days ago, WhatsApp CEO Jan Kuom posted on Facebook that the messenger service had 800 million active monthly users. Their Target is 1 billion users. So this raises the question on just what Facebook plans to do with Whatsapp in terms of monetization. In a few hours Facebook is set to announce its Q1 2015 results where CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expect to outline plans for Whatsapp, Instagram and Oculus all which have been Billion dollar acquisitions.
So what are some of the ways Facebook could explore with WhatsApp?
WhatsApp for Web
WhatsApp is currently available on Web via Chrome, with plans to launch on Mozilla, Safari and other browsers. Web offers WhatsApp an interesting opportunities to monetize while ultimately avoiding ads. Facebook recently outlined its plan to offer its messenger service as a CRM tool. This is a powerful and yet effective venture WhatsApp can explore where brands can interract with customers. This would ultimately create a new revenue source for them. In facrt, such a service would be of utmost importance to startups and brands in segments such as fashion that depend on viral marketing strategies to scale.
WhatsApp Video Calls.
WhatsApp recently launched Voice Calls and Video calls shouldn’t be such a big surprise. WhatsApp Voice Calls could adopt Skype’s model by letting users pay for upgrades to the already popular Voice calls. A user can opt to pay an annual subscription or monthly subscription fee to make unlimited Video Calls. They could also introduce Group Video Calls on their already popular WhatsApp group service for which only users with the upgrades can participate. Skype, the most pre-eminent VOIP service in the world generates over $2 billion in revenue annually.
The news of the acquisition of Whatsapp was met with equal fanfare as was the news of the planned venture into Voice calls. VOIP was a service available to a few messenger services such as Viber and Wechat but facing a sudden explosion. Beginning April, Whatsapp rolled out its Whatsapp call service on Android and later expanded to iOS, Blackberry and Windows. Whatsapp may decide to charge for Voice Calls to groups. The service is not yet available but is an area they could explore.
The World of payments is literally exploding with everyone launching their payment service From Google, to Apple, Microsoft and even Facebook outlined plans to turn Messenger into a payment platform. WhatsApp could venture into payments but targeted at the Emerging Markets and Africa. Its popularity in India, Brazil and Africa is enormous. It could ride on the wave created by internet.org in these markets to launch its payment service. This will off course require proper education of the masses who include the users of WhatsApp and Merchants. The service could also allow for the transfer of money between these users and their banks where most of the people do not have bank accounts. This would mean revenue for WhatsApp from transaction fees, from merchants and a small fee from users of the service.
WhatsApp for Enterprise
Blackberry launched its Blackberry Messenger for Enterprise and integrated the same with Microsoft Outlook. The service has so far received praise due to its effectiveness. Whatsapp could thus launch a similar service aimed at Enterprise market with ability to allow users to plan for meetings, communicate securely and share files and information on the service. With WhatsApp for Web, the service would be a particularly effective. Whatsapp would then charge the enterprise clients a fee to use the service as well as charge to provide support.
Line Makes hundreds of millions of dollars from stickers. Blackberry launched BBM Store to equal fanfare and over $100 million in revenue from the store alone. Whatsapp with its 1 Billion users target would generate more than that through purchase of stickers and special items from what they could call “Whatsapp Store”. Such in app purchases would drive usage of the service up and also make for better emoticons.
I am not sure Mark Zuckerberg or Jan Koum will read this article but sure there is a few ideas on how they could make Billions of Dollars from WhatsApp.