Unveiling the Business Model of WhatsApp: A Detailed Analysis

Updated on: Feb 7, 2024
business model of whatsapp

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WhatsApp Messenger, commonly referred to as WhatsApp, is an instant messaging and voice-over-IP service under the ownership of Meta Platforms.

It provides users with the capability to transmit text and voice messages, and video messages, initiate voice and video calls, and disseminate various forms of content such as images, documents, and user locations.

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About Whatsapp

whatsapp logo

WhatsApp Messenger, often simply called WhatsApp, is an instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) service that falls under the umbrella of Meta Platforms.

It provides users with the capability to send text messages, voice messages, and video messages, make voice and video calls, and share a variety of content such as images, documents, and user locations.

As of 2022, it boasted a user base of more than 2 billion people worldwide. The client application of WhatsApp operates on mobile devices but is also accessible from computers.

Also known as WhatsApp, this instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) service is a product of Meta Platforms. It allows users to transmit text messages, voice messages, and video messages, initiate voice and video calls, and disseminate diverse content such as images, documents, and user locations.

The client application of WhatsApp is designed for mobile devices but can be accessed from computers as well.

To sign up for the service, a cellular mobile telephone number is required. In January 2018, WhatsApp introduced a standalone business application known as WhatsApp Business, which is capable of interacting with the standard WhatsApp client.

WhatsApp Inc., based in Mountain View, California, developed the service, which was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for an estimated US$ 19.3 billion.

By 2015, it had risen to become the most popular messaging application globally, and by February 2020, it had amassed more than 2 billion users worldwide.

By 2016, it had emerged as the primary mode of Internet communication in several regions, including Latin America, the Indian subcontinent, and substantial parts of Europe and Africa.

Business Model of Whatsapp

business model of whatsapp image

Offered by Meta Platforms, WhatsApp Messenger has gained global recognition as an instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) platform. The platform’s unique approach, which is the business model of WhatsApp, primarily facilitates interactions between businesses and consumers.

In its inception stages, the platform operated on a subscription model, where users were charged for app downloads and annual usage.

However, the revenue generation strategy has since evolved. Now, the platform garners revenue by imposing charges on large and medium-sized enterprises for the use of its Business API. This transformation in the business model of WhatsApp has been instrumental in its sustained growth and success.

Multisided Platform 

Operating as a multisided platform, WhatsApp offers users the ability to send messages to one another securely and without cost, regardless of their mobile device’s operating system. This feature has propelled it to worldwide popularity as a go-to choice for instant messaging.

Furthering this, the platform’s capacity to bridge the gap between different operating systems bolsters its accessibility, positioning it as a universally adaptable tool for communication. Users from all over the globe, irrespective of their mobile device type, can connect and communicate without any hindrance.

This degree of inclusivity and adaptability reflects the business model of WhatsApp, which is deeply committed to user-centric design and functionality.

Moreover, the provision of a secure and cost-free messaging service fortifies its standing as a dependable and economical tool for communication in the digital era.

This blend of accessibility, security, and cost-effectiveness forms the foundation of the business model of WhatsApp, earning it worldwide recognition in the sphere of instant messaging.

Customer Segments 

The primary user base of WhatsApp comprises a vast number of smartphone users. The platform’s user-friendly interface and diverse features are tailored to cater to the communication needs of this broad user base, reflecting the business model of WhatsApp.

To expand on this, the appeal of WhatsApp stems from its ease of use and adaptability. The design of the platform is such that it is straightforward to navigate, even for individuals who are not particularly tech-savvy. This accessibility makes it appealing to a wide range of smartphone users.

In addition, WhatsApp provides a host of features including text messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and more. These features address various communication requirements, positioning WhatsApp as a comprehensive tool for communication.

Whether it’s a simple text message, sharing a business document, or conducting a video call with a loved one, WhatsApp has the capability to facilitate it all.

This amalgamation of simplicity, versatility, and comprehensiveness is a key aspect of the business model of WhatsApp and contributes to its status as a globally preferred choice among smartphone users.

Key Partnerships

WhatsApp has forged strategic alliances with more than 50 carriers worldwide. These partnerships have expanded its reach and accessibility, making it a popular choice among users globally. This expansion is a key aspect of the business model of WhatsApp.

To provide more detail, these strategic alliances have enabled WhatsApp to offer its services to users across various networks and regions. By partnering with a diverse range of carriers, WhatsApp ensures that its services are widely accessible, irrespective of the user’s network provider or geographical location.

This global accessibility is a testament to WhatsApp’s dedication to providing seamless and universally accessible communication.

Moreover, these partnerships also showcase WhatsApp’s adaptability and its readiness to collaborate for the benefit of its users. As a result, WhatsApp has successfully established itself as a universally accessible and reliable communication tool, which is a significant part of the business model of WhatsApp, and this has made it a preferred choice for users worldwide.

Revenue Generation

whatsapp api

During its initial phase, WhatsApp operated on a subscription model, where users were charged for downloading the app and for its annual usage. However, a transformation in its revenue generation approach has since taken place.

Currently, it generates revenue by charging large and medium-sized enterprises for the use of its Business API, which is a significant aspect of the business model of WhatsApp.

To provide more detail, the transition from a subscription-based model to a business-focused model showcases WhatsApp’s adaptability and strategic evolution. The original subscription model ensured a consistent revenue stream from individual users.

However, seeing the potential for expansion in the business sector, WhatsApp shifted to a model that monetizes its Business API.

This change enables WhatsApp to meet the communication needs of businesses by offering them a platform for customer interaction and service. In exchange, businesses pay for the advanced features and capabilities provided by the WhatsApp Business API.

This strategic shift in revenue generation, a key part of the business model of WhatsApp, has allowed it to tap into a new market segment while continuing to offer free services to individual users.

User Base 

user base whatsapp

By 2022, WhatsApp had gathered a global user base of over 2 billion individuals. This substantial user base ranks it as the second-largest property of Meta Platforms, Inc., following its flagship app. This is a testament to WhatsApp’s global appeal and the effectiveness of the business model of WhatsApp.

To provide more detail, the extensive user base of WhatsApp highlights its global penetration and acceptance. It has successfully entered various markets worldwide, becoming a favored communication method for billions of users.

This widespread popularity is a reflection of the platform’s user-friendly design, robust features, and dependable service. Moreover, WhatsApp’s position as the second-largest property of Meta Platforms, Inc. underscores the significant role it plays in the company’s portfolio.

The success of the business model of WhatsApp, which has effectively monetized a free messaging service, is evident in its vast user base and its standing within Meta Platforms, Inc.

This success story of WhatsApp illustrates the potential of innovative business models in the realm of digital communication.

How Does Whatsapp Make Money?

Sure, here are five points about how WhatsApp makes money:

1. Subscription Model: In its initial stages, WhatsApp operated on a subscription model. Users were charged for downloading the application and for its annual usage. This model ensured a steady stream of revenue from individual users. However, with the evolution of the platform and changes in market dynamics, WhatsApp moved away from this model.

2. WhatsApp Business API:

whatsapp api

Currently, a significant portion of WhatsApp’s revenue comes from its Business API. Large and medium-sized enterprises are charged for using this service. The Business API allows businesses to interact with their customers directly through the platform, providing services like customer support and updates.

This has opened a new revenue stream for WhatsApp while enhancing the platform’s utility for businesses.

3. WhatsApp Pay:

whatsapp pay

WhatsApp Pay is another avenue through which WhatsApp generates revenue. While sending money through WhatsApp Pay is free for users, a certain percentage of every transaction is charged to the recipients. This feature not only provides convenience to the users but also contributes to WhatsApp’s earnings.

4. Click to WhatsApp Ads:

whatsapp ads

Businesses can purchase ads on Facebook or Instagram that have a ‘Click to WhatsApp’ feature. This allows customers to switch to WhatsApp directly from the ad, facilitating seamless communication between businesses and customers.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, 1 million businesses use these “click to WhatsApp” ads, making it a significant source of revenue.

5. Strategic Partnerships: WhatsApp has formed strategic partnerships with more than 50 carriers worldwide. These partnerships enhance WhatsApp’s reach and accessibility, making it a preferred choice for users across the globe.

While the details of the financial agreements between WhatsApp and these carriers are not public, it is likely that these partnerships contribute to WhatsApp’s revenue, either directly or indirectly, by increasing its user base.

Whatsapp Marketing Strategy 

The first step in your WhatsApp marketing strategy should be setting up a WhatsApp Business Platform account. Before you can create a messaging campaign, your team will need a Meta Business Account and a WhatsApp Business Platform account.

This will allow you to take full advantage of the platform’s features designed specifically for businesses.Next, it’s important to integrate WhatsApp with your other communication platforms. To offer the best customer experience, you’ll likely need to integrate WhatsApp with your tech stack.

This could include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, Customer Success Management (CSM) software, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, and Chatbot/Conversational AI platforms. This integration will ensure a seamless communication experience for your customers across multiple platforms.

Once you have your account set up and integrated, you can start broadcasting promotional messages on WhatsApp. With a 98% open rate, WhatsApp messages can reach a wide audience and significantly boost your sales.

Sending bulk WhatsApp Marketing messages and offers is an effective way to engage your audience and promote your products or services.

Lastly, consider automating notifications and reminders on WhatsApp. You can set up automated notifications for multiple events like order confirmations, shipping updates, delivery notifications, and even reminders for abandoned carts.

These automated messages can keep your customers informed and engaged, improving their overall experience with your business.Remember, these strategies are most effective when implemented with the WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business App.

Key Partners of Whatsapp

Sure, here are five key partners of WhatsApp:

Absolutely, here are the expanded paragraphs for each key partner of WhatsApp:

  1. Facebook Inc.: Facebook Inc., the social media giant, is a significant partner of WhatsApp. In February 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, marking a new chapter in the messaging app’s journey. This acquisition has allowed WhatsApp to leverage Facebook’s resources and infrastructure, leading to significant growth and development of the platform.
  2. Sequoia Capital: Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm, played a crucial role in the development of WhatsApp. As an early investor in WhatsApp, Sequoia Capital provided the necessary financial support and strategic guidance that helped shape the trajectory of WhatsApp. Their partnership was instrumental in transforming WhatsApp from a start-up to a globally recognized messaging platform.
  3. Mobile Companies: Mobile companies form a key part of WhatsApp’s partner ecosystem. These companies provide the necessary infrastructure that allows users to access WhatsApp on their mobile devices. By partnering with mobile companies, WhatsApp can ensure its app is compatible with various devices and operating systems, thereby reaching a wider user base.
  4. Internet Providers: Internet providers are another key partner for WhatsApp. They provide the internet connectivity required for WhatsApp to function. Without reliable internet access, users would not be able to send or receive messages, make calls, or use any of the other features that WhatsApp offers. Therefore, internet providers play a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation of WhatsApp.
  5. WhatsApp Business Providers: WhatsApp Business Providers are official partners that offer various services to businesses using WhatsApp. These services include setting up a WhatsApp Business account, developing conversational commerce tools like WhatsApp chatbots, and creating template messages. These partners help businesses maximize the potential of WhatsApp as a communication and marketing tool.

Key Activities of Whatsapp

Sure, here are five key activities of WhatsApp:

1. Development and Maintenance of the Platform:

WhatsApp is steadfast in its commitment to the ongoing development and upkeep of its platform. This commitment is driven by the company’s dedication to providing a user experience that is not only seamless but also enjoyable and efficient.

To achieve this, WhatsApp invests significant resources into improving the platform’s functionality and reliability. This includes regular updates to enhance performance, fix bugs, and introduce new features that cater to the evolving needs of its global user base.

By prioritizing the development and maintenance of its platform, WhatsApp ensures that it remains a reliable and user-friendly communication tool for millions of users worldwide. This continuous improvement process is a testament to WhatsApp’s commitment to excellence and its unwavering focus on user satisfaction.

2. Integration with Other Platforms: 

A key aspect of WhatsApp’s operations involves its integration with various platforms and systems, encompassing both mobile and desktop operating systems. This strategic integration is aimed at ensuring that WhatsApp is accessible across a wide range of devices, thereby catering to a diverse user base.

By aligning its platform with different operating systems, WhatsApp ensures that its services are not limited to a specific device or system, but are universally accessible. This integration strategy not only enhances user convenience but also expands the reach of WhatsApp’s services.

It underscores WhatsApp’s commitment to inclusivity and its aim to provide a universally accessible communication platform. Through this approach, WhatsApp continues to uphold its reputation as a versatile and user-friendly messaging app.

3. Feature Enhancement: 

WhatsApp is committed to a process of continuous innovation, regularly introducing new features and refining existing ones. This commitment is driven by a desire to enhance the user experience and adapt to the changing needs of its global user base.

By constantly evolving its platform, WhatsApp ensures that it remains relevant and continues to meet, if not exceed user expectations. This includes everything from introducing new functionalities that improve communication and collaboration to refining user interface elements for greater ease of use.

This ongoing process of innovation and enhancement underscores WhatsApp’s dedication to its users and its mission to provide a communication platform that is not only reliable and secure but also continually improving and adapting to the needs of its users.

4. Security and Privacy: 

At the heart of WhatsApp’s operations is a strong commitment to the security and privacy of user data. This commitment is manifested in its implementation of end-to-end encryption, a robust security measure designed to ensure that communication on the platform remains private.

This means that only the sender and receiver of a message can read its contents, effectively safeguarding against unauthorized access.

By prioritizing data security and privacy, WhatsApp not only protects its users but also builds trust, demonstrating its dedication to creating a safe and secure communication environment.

This focus on security underscores WhatsApp’s commitment to its users and its recognition of the critical importance of data privacy in today’s digital age.

5. Customer Engagement: 

WhatsApp places a significant emphasis on customer engagement strategies, with the aim of encouraging users to perform actions that hold high value. These actions, which can range from regular usage of the platform to participation in various in-app activities, are designed to foster a deeper sense of loyalty among users.

By successfully engaging its users, WhatsApp not only enhances user satisfaction but also increases the lifetime value of its user base.

This focus on customer engagement is a testament to WhatsApp’s user-centric approach and its commitment to providing a platform that is not only functional and secure but also engaging and rewarding for its users.

Through these strategies, WhatsApp continues to build a loyal and engaged user base, further solidifying its position as a leading global messaging platform.

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This blog post is an in-depth analysis of the business model of WhatsApp in India, a popular messaging app that was acquired by Facebook in 2014.

WhatsApp’s monetization strategy, such as introducing premium features, expanding into new markets, and leveraging Facebook’s ecosystem. The blog post is intended to help readers understand the dynamics and potential of the business model of WhatsApp in India as a business.

We hope that you took the time to read the case study on the Business Model of Whatsapp and found it informative. Please comment on your proposals. See more of our blogs for more such case studies. In addition, IIDE runs a free Digital Marketing Masterclass Week to examine digital marketing.

Furthermore, IIDE also offers a comprehensive Postgraduate (PG) program in Digital Marketing that provides in-depth knowledge and practical experience in the field. They also provide a variety of digital marketing courses catering to different needs. Visit our website for additional information.

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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