Making Science

WhatsApp begins testing ways to monetise its platform

Tyrone Stewart

WhatsApp is testing a system that would allow businesses to talk directly to users of the messaging platform, as it seeks ways to finally make money from its service.

Since its acquisition by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp has yet to devise a business model that would enable it to start making money. WhatsApp originally had a $0.99 annual fee for the service, after the initial first year was free, but this was removed in 2016 to ensure continued global growth.

According to Reuters, a potential revenue source for the popular messaging service would be to charge businesses that want to contact customers on WhatsApp. As part of testing this possibility, WhatsApp is also surveying users about the extent to which they talk to businesses on the app, and whether they had received spam.

The potential monetisation venture is being trialled with a ‘small number of companies’ through a deal struck with Y Combinator, a US seed accelerator.

“The trial is still in the early stages, said Umer Ilyas, co-founder of Cowlar Inc, one of the startups involved. The system is highly anticipated in remote places where WhatsApp is especially popular, he said,” said Reuters.