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How Free Messaging Apps Like WhatsApp & WeChat Make Money

| Published on January 28, 2018

Communicating with free messaging like WhatsApp and WeChat has become a part of our life. Gone are the days when customers were charged for sending text messages. We all love to use free services but an important arises that how these companies earn money even after providing everything for free to consumers.


WeChat has more than 900 million monthly active users that use it to do messaging, ordering food online, buying grocery, and even to pay at offline restaurants. WeChat has a lot of games produced by Tencent which users buy to have fun. WeChat helps offline businesses to use an online platform to sell items for which Tencent’s online payments platform Weixin earns a commision from the sales. Other apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, Line, Facebook Messenger have started to follow the business model similar to WeChat.

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WhatsApp introduced a revenue model in 2014, which asked users to pay $0.99 as a membership fee for a year, the company earned more than $1 billion in only nine months but after the $19-billion deal with Facebook, these charges were removed again.

Experts believe that companies are doing so to have a sustainable revenue model which can be done better by becoming a platform which can be used for the exchange of services. WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app with over 1.3 billion active monthly users. A new business app was introduced by Whatsapp just a week ago. With a business app, Whatsapp can ask the owners to pay a specific amount for some extra features that will be available only to the paid users. Messaging service providers know that people are using them for business purposes also and they want to make a profit out of it. However, right now they are focussing on providing better ways of doing business using these apps.

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Line earns money in a different way, it uses free-to-play games that generate money from the in-game purchases and many other services. Another earning source for Line is their stickers that users buy to send as messages. The Official accounts for popular businesses and celebrities pay Line for sending promotional messages.
In simple words, the free messaging apps earn money with

  • Subscription charges for extra features
  • Advertisements
  • Stickers
  • Official accounts
  • Filters, themes
  • In-app purchases
  • Payment gateways

With having so big audience which spends most of their online time on these apps, the future of these companies is very bright. There is a big chance that these apps will launch their own payment gateways and can integrate them with banks also.

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