The now Facebook-owned WhatsApp was created in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton, and Jan Koum. What started as an idea formed when Koum was browsing the App Store on his newly purchased iPhone has evolved into the most highly used messaging application in the world, with 1.5 billion users in 180 countries as of Q4 2017. Digital payments within the app have recently been tested, and the door to cryptocurrency transactions has now been opened.
In its first four years of growth, WhatsApp accelerated more quickly than Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and Skype combined. Although the messaging app comparatively lacks popularity in the US, it has been hugely successful in penetrating countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy with over 80% of its population utilizing the application. The number of daily WhatsApp users now exceeds one billion.
By February of 2013 WhatsApp’s valuation grew to $1.5 billion, which attracted the attention of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook took action against the potential threat by acquiring the messaging application in February 2014 at the price tag of $19 billion – remains as their largest acquisition to date.
In 2013, WhatsApp reportedly made $20 million in annual revenue, a drop in the ocean compared to the price paid by Facebook. Nonetheless, the social media titan saw the long-term potential in monetizing key WhatsApp features and in utilizing the messaging app to enhance their own ecosystem.
Since February of 2018, WhatsApp has been testing the implementation of its digital payment system, which now processes over a million transactions per month according to the Financial Times. India was chosen for the testing, where WhatsApp messenger is currently servicing 210 million monthly users. With one billion mobile phone users in the country, the Indian digital payments market is forecasted to grow to $1 trillion by 2023.
Now, in-app cryptocurrency payments have been made possible by Swiss blockchain startup Zulu Republic. The company recently announced that they have developed a new program, Lite.IM bot, which enables WhatsApp users to send and receive multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH) and their native token, Zulu Republic Token (ZTX).
Lite.IM has already been integrated into other messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and regular SMS. In January 2019 the Swiss company implemented features enabling users to purchase digital assets from directly within those platforms using a credit or debit card. Anyone with a smartphone is now able to add the Lite.IM WhatsApp bot and easily transact in their desired currency.
Zulu Republic’s bid to bring cryptocurrency to the masses could have huge ramifications for the crypto space. The solution makes mobile digital transactions simple and accessible – especially beneficial in places across Southeast Asia and Africa, which have a high percentage of unbanked and underbanked populations.
With the rapid growth in users that WhatsApp has experienced these past 5 years, the integration of crypto payments could have a huge impact in opening the door to cryptocurrency usage for the mainstream.
WhatsApp’s mother company, Facebook Inc. has also unveiled its own plans to develop a new cryptocurrency–GlobalCoin. Facebook plans on releasing its whitepaper on June 18, 2019. It would be no surprise to see Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp integration of the stablecoin to allow for seamless GlobalCoin transactions in the near future.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.