WhatsApp has been looking for several ways to expand its user base, which is already one of the largest in the world at more than 450 million.
It is estimated that the app is adding around 1 million user every three days. Not satisfied with the growth through the word of mouth advertising medium, WhatsApp had revealed plans to enter into the carrier business by launching prepaid cards. This announcement was made by the founder of the app, Jan Koum.
WhatsApp Now a MVNO
After its recent acquisition by Facebook for $19 billion, it seems that WhatsApp is gearing on to this next level of expansion. The company has launched its first prepaid SIM card that will cost only € 10. The company has partnered with E-Plus in order to make this possible. This will help the company massively, as the SIM cards will come bundled with the ability to use WhatsApp for free. It is possible for a carrier to enter into the mobile business without actually not owning any network. Such carriers are known as MVNO and WhatsApp has now become one.
Partnership with E-Plus
The SIM cards will be available complete with all the branding necessary to give WhatsApp free a lot of exposure. The company has acknowledged that it has a partnership with more than 50 carriers across the world, but this is the first time it has actually become a carrier. E-Plus is the carrier that actually owns all the networks that will now be given a WhatsApp branding for the sale of such prepaid SIM cards.
The € 10 card comes with a € 10 value that can be used either for domestic calls at the rate of nine euros cents minute. One can also go down the route of data plans at the rate of 24 euro cents for every megabyte used. This seems to be a way just to expand the user base of WhatsApp. It is understood that the company will not be providing any discounts or even cancelling the yearly subscription fee of $0.99 that is in place right now. This annual subscription fee kicks in after the user has completed the first year of service, which is free.
Doubts Surrounding Voice Call Support
The company recently announced that WhatsApp will be providing extensive support to voice calls. Right now, the app only supports voice messaging services. This has led to competition like WeChat getting a significant advantage by offering free voice calls for unlimited periods of time. WhatsApp has not revealed whether the much anticipated voice call feature in the app will be charged separately. WhatsApp is already one of the most popular messaging platforms in Germany right now.