WhatsApp has hit 200 million monthly active users in India as the Facebook-owned service continues its dominance in developing markets.
India remains the biggest market for WhatsApp, which had 160 million active users in the country last November. Moving forward, Brian Acton, a founder of WhatsApp, said the company will explore ways to contribute to “India’s vision for digital commerce.”
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WhatsApp is simple, secure, and its vision is in line with (the government initiative) Digital India, Acton said.
He’s on a one-day trip to the country, where he met India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to talk about ways WhatsApp could further help empower people in rural and poor areas, as well as commercial messaging and mobile payments.
Last year the mobile wallet app Freecharge announced integration with WhatsApp that allows two users to exchange money with them.
“India is a very important country to us, and we’re proud to have 200 million people who use WhatsApp to connect with their friends, family and communities,” Acton said in a press statement.
Views on #DigitalIndia by Brian Acton, Co-founder of @WhatsApp . pic.twitter.com/OaIqqfo97A
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) February 24, 2017
WhatsApp competes with Hike, an instant messaging app from Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder of India’s largest telecom operator Airtel.
Hike hasn’t shared how many active users it has, but early last year it said Hike had been downloaded more than 100 million times. Facebook’s marquee social media app had more than 155 million active users in the country as of late October last year.
Other companies have been looking at India, hoping to lure the world’s second largest internet market. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a new version of Skype, called Skype Lite which is lighter and could work on slow internet speeds and on phones with less muscle power.
Challenges and opportunities
WhatsApp has its own challenges, too. It has been billed as one of the biggest sources for spreading of fake news and other misleading information in the country. But for now, its dominance in India remains unrivaled.
The “Ping! Ping! Ping!” chime of WhatsApp notifications can be heard in all corners of the country, whether you’re on a public bus, or a fish market. So much so that on the New Year’s eve alone, more that 14 billion messages were exchanged.