WhatsApp co-founder Brain Acton on his recent visit to New Delhi had loads of plans to share to connect mases more efficiently through the platform. Acton’s visit subtlety highlighted that WhatsApp is gearing up for serious business in India. Definitely more than being just an SMS alternative app.
With 200 million monthly active users in India, WhatsApp is looking to invest “in building a service with high utility”. After the Facebook acquisition, this seems to be the perfect time for WhatsApp to look at the ‘Digital India’ agenda seriously. Especially with Facebook’s repeated attempts to boost internet penetration through its Internet.org in the country.
Globally, WhatsApp has an active monthly user base of 1.2 billion. While the app itself is free to use, WhatsApp seems to be finally setting its eyes on earning money from this huge user base. The company with just 80 engineers is yet to reveal a monetisation model but that ideation has begun.
The good part is that Acton wants to keep WhatsApp simple and more importantly free of spams and ads.
So, what is WhatsApp up to and why is Acton’s visit important? Here are few concepts Acton shared with the local media.
1) WhatsApp for business
WhatsApp is keen on a building a seamless communication platform to help small businesses communicate with customers. While large businesses have got their own customer interaction platforms, small business like flower shops, tea stalls, etc are totally cut-off from the ease of doing business with technology. The WhatsApp for business app might allow multiple employees to login and manage multiple people.
2) More local languages on WhatsApp
Acton has shown interest in taking WhatsApp to rural areas in the country and connect the unconnected. Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has urged him to include more local languages on the platform.
3) Digital Payments on WhatsApp
While no concrete plans were shared, Acton revealed his interest in delivering digital payment services through WhatsApp.
4) Digital services through WhatsApp
The possibility of a government partnership in future cannot be ruled out as Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he had talked about ways to provide digital services via WhatsApp. With WhatsApp being a fully-fledged communication platform enabled with location, video and audio calls, direct phone messaging, etc. a lot of government services can be delivered seamless. This is something already aimed by Microsoft through the recent launch of its Skype Lite app, exclusively for India.
5) More investments
With Facebook taking over WhatsApp, the company now has access to more investments from Facebook to help itself to grow faster. Also, WhatsApp will be able to leverage the readily available technology infrastructure created by Facebook. Acton has already mentioned that WhatsApp will be investing more money to better the communication network in India. It is just a matter of time to see how it does it.