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WhatsApp claims to have close to 65M monthly active users in India

Mobile messaging app WhatsApp has close to 65 million monthly active users in India, says WhatsApp business head Neeraj Arora in an interview to BGR.in.

This is up from 50 million monthly active users in May this year, indicating that the company has added around 15 million MAUs in the past three months. Note that India is the largest market for WhatsApp which claims to have 600 million monthly active users worldwide.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum had earlier mentioned that India has been one of the largest source of growth for the company along with Mexico, Brazil and Russia. The company is also currently hiring for a business head for the Indian market as a part of its expansion plans for this year, along with a few other markets.

That being said, India is not a significant revenue market for the company yet but it isn’t a no-revenue market. WhatsApp’s Head of Business Development Neeraj Arora had earlier told Medianama that this is because WhatsApp has chosen not to push subscriptions on Android so far due to lack of carrier billing integration on Google Play.

Telco partnerships: Arora told the publication that WhatsApp now has tie-ups with six mobile operators in India. This includes Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo, Uninor, Airtel and more recently BSNL. Arora had earlier told Medianama that these deals are more of an awareness and branding initiative and they don’t make any money on them.

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Voice calling delayed: It looks like WhatApp’s voice calling service has also been delayed. Arora told the publication that they are still working on the feature and declined to disclose any specific timeline for the launch. WhatsApp had earlier mentioned that it was planning to launch voice calling in Q2 this year. (Also readOn Telecom vs Internet in a post WhatsApp Voice scenario)

Competitors: WhatsApp essentially competes with other players like Tencent’s WeChat, Bharti Softbank-backed Hike, Rakuten’s Viber and Naver Corp’s LINE which has reportedly filed for an IPO last month.

While none of WhatsApp’s competitors have disclosed its monthly active user base for India yet, which we feel is a true measure for a messaging app, Tencent’s WeChat is probably the nearest competitor for WhatsApp globally with 438 million MAUs, although a majority of these is from China.

TRAI Internet Regulation

It’s worth noting that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is also reportedly planning to release a consultation paper on a regulatory framework for Internet Services in India, following a discussion seminar earlier this month.

Our extensive coverage on this issue:

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– TRAI Chairman: Telco’s & Internet co’s need to find models of working together without destroying value
– Other comments from the TRAI’s Internet Services regulation seminar
– Telcos didn’t want to raise rev-share, b2b issues for mobile VAS, so why for Internet services? – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI
– “A municipal water supplier does not decide what kind of Cola you drink” – One97 MD Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Telco’s vs Internet
– You ambushed each other, and now you’re trying to get someone else to save you – Venky Nishtala, CTO, Rediff
– Mahesh Uppal: Bring telecom operators on par with OTT providers
– Reliance Communications’ CS Rao: Telecom Operators & Internet services need to share revenues
– Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama: If the consumer has a difficulty in paying for the data, we’re happy to come in and subsidise that data

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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