Whatsapp, the most popular messenger service now acquired by Facebook will not charge an annual fee of $1 in developing countries like India. Vice President for business development of Whatsapp, Neeraj Arora stated that the monetization would come from subscriptions and not adverts further saying that:
"Monetization is on the cards. It will happen over the next few years. We believe in the subscription model and not in advertising as people do not like to have ads as they converse."
Arora spent the day with students of Indian School of Business(ISB) in Hyderabad, and had an informal chat with them as he related his ascension from a start up to the VP of Whatsapp. When asked about whether the service will be free in other developing countries as well, he confirmed that,
“If it doesn’t apply to the majority of our users, we don’t do it. We believe in building a product that works for everyone.”
The removal of annual subscription fee in developing countries is due to the fact that a very small percentage of users have access to credit and debit cards. One way Whatsapp could charge users while not destroying the SMS business in the sub-continent is by partnering with carriers which they have reportedly started. Whatsapp intends to tie up with the carriers in the country as they could sell more data with more and more people getting onto WhatsApp. Regarding this issue, Arora said:
“They understood the point. We have tied up with five telcos in India”
The business executive who played an essential role in the $19 billion acquisition of Whatsapp also stated that India has the tendency to "build the next WhatsApp for the world."
WhatsApp currently has more than 600 million monthly users worldwide and is one of the most popular messenger service today. The news of the service being free will definitely be music to the ears of people living in developing countries where WhatsApp was usually free for the first year of use and then users were charged $1 annually.