WhatsApp is getting bigger. It has just reached a record 2 billion users. It took almost seven years to reach its first billion, and just over three years to double that number.
At least that’s what WhatsApp’s official announcement says, in which the company, a subsidiary of Facebook, highlights how it connects the world “privately,” a message that focuses on that end-to-end encryption that has become one of WhatsApp’s most notable improvements in recent years. Paradoxically, this huge user base is not much use, at least in terms of making money. However, that could change in the future.
WhatsApp: a business with many users and little profitability
After the scandals that Facebook has been involved in in recent years for its lack of security and information filtering (read Cambridge Analytica), it is not surprising that WhatsApp repeatedly highlights this ambition to “connect the world privately” with its service.
But the truth is that despite all this, WhatsApp has been consolidating its position as the most widespread instant messaging application in the world. The two billion users leave behind the user base of its sister service, Facebook Messenger, but also WeChat, QQ Mobile, Snapchat and Telegram, which Statista reports had only 200 million users in October 2019.
Despite all those users, the company still doesn’t report a profit. Three years ago, the social network had 1.2 billion users and was failing to make money, although it seemed to have plans to do so. Today, three years later, it seems that none of this has changed.
The initiatives that Facebook launched at that time have not had any effect, and neither its work as a tool for companies nor its intention to put advertising on the platform – an initiative now abandoned – have had any impact.
However, the solution to this problem could come in another form: the introduction of WhatsApp as a payment method could be the way to finally make the service financially profitable. This project about to start in India could be extended to other countries if it is as successful as Facebook hopes it will be.
If all goes well, WhatsApp will have a huge user base to make it a success as platforms like WeChat and LINE have done, which while not as famous as WhatsApp, are much more profitable for their owners.