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A brief history of Whatsapp and where Whatsapp for Business is heading

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum created WhatsApp, a messaging app for smartphones in 2009. Koum saw the potential to operate via the Apple App Store when he bought an iPhone in early 2009. WhatsApp was initially designed to focus on statuses. Later developed by Igor Solomennikov, the team optimized Apple’s new push notification update to notify users’ networks with status updates. But users quickly adopted it as an instant messaging service, which planted the seed for what the app would (and has) become. It was WhatsApp 2.0 that incorporated the messaging function which became the app’s defining feature.

As WhatsApp continued to grow, it attracted investment. Although its revenue figures were so low to the point of being nonexistent, venture capital titans were investing in it heavily. By February 2013, WhatsApp’s valuation was at $1.5 billion. At this point, there were more interested parties apart from the VCs. Facebook saw the new messaging platform as a potential threat to its own offering. In February 2014, it moved to acquire WhatsApp for a whooping $19 billion. The acquisition remains Facebook’s largest to date and is one of the largest tech acquisitions in history.

In February 2014, Facebook Inc. moved to acquire WhatsApp for a whooping $19 billion

After acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, the growth of the messaging app quickly escalated in October 2014. At the F8 developer conference in San Jose in 2018, Facebook declared that users make over 2 billion minutes of voice calls and video calls on WhatsApp every day. Even more impressive is that WhatsApp users send 65 billion messages daily.

Although there are other messaging apps in the global market, WhatsApp is undoubtedly the market leader. Just check out the leaderboard comparison between July 2019 and October 2019.

Most popular global mobile messenger apps as of October 2019, based on number of monthly active users (in millions)

In early 2018 Facebook launched WhatsApp for Business allowing companies to create business profiles and to leverage WhatsApp Business API for automation of WhatsApp digital marketing capabilities. What followed later was an introduction of a simple product catalogue within Whatsapp for Business app, which included product and service listings.

By the time the world got hit by COVID-19 pandemic, Whatsapp doubled its video conferencing capabilities by allowing for up to 8 participants in a single call. It is to be seen whether this feature resulted in any new user acquisition.

In June 2020 Whatsapp announced the introduction of in-chat micro payments in Brazil

In June 2020 Whatsapp announced the introduction of in-chat micro payments in Brazil. Working with main stream credit card providers and Facebook Pay the service was envisaged to provide peer-to-peer digital payments and small business digital transactions.

What followed was an order of the Brazilian central bank to suspend the payment service immediately:

So where is Whatsapp for Business heading from here? The in-chat digital payments service is a big deal with a lot of money at stake and this certainly catches the attention of the regulators worldwide. The potential exponential growth of the Whatsapp payment service is priced-in judging its recent statistics:

  • 1.5 billion Users in 180 countries. This makes WhatsApp the most-popular and most used messaging app in the world. It has 200,000 users more than Facebook Messenger

  • It has 1 billion daily active WhatsApp users

  • India is the biggest WhatsApp market in the world with over 200 million users

  • There are 120 million WhatsApp users in Brazil

  • US WhatsApp market is relatively small, but growing at 23 million

  • The highest WhatsApp market penetration is in the Netherlands at 85%, next is Spain at 83.1% and Italy at 83%

  • WhatApp Status has 450 million users which is even more than Snapchat Stories

  • WhatsApp Business has three million active users

  • 29 million messages are sent on WhatsApp per minute

  • Daily WhatsApp voice and video calls is at two billion minutes

  • WhatsApp video calls is at 55 million per day, lasting 340 million minutes in total

  • 85 billion hours of WhatsApp usage between May-July 2018

Is your organisation ready for Whatsapp for Business? Contact us to find out how you can leverage Whatsapp message marketing features and chatbot capabilities in your firm.
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