It has been less than a year of WhatsApp releasing its user safety monthly reports under the new IT Rules and the messaging platform has already banned nearly 20 million accounts, which is likely to impact its user base growth rate in India. WhatsApp had released its first user safety report in July 2021.
Industry experts call it a way to have the right users on the platform as the app has matured much beyond its use acquisition phase and is now focussed on monetising the product.
“As a company, it is no more about user growth for WhatsApp. It is about having the right people in the network. Having trash or spam users on the platform will reduce its popularity. It is way past the user acquisition phase which comes at the early stages. At its current stage, it is more about monetisation now and that will happen when the quality of users is optimum. The focus is not just on user acquisition but having the right users using the platform for the right purpose,” Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research, told BusinessLine.
“Monetisation is happening more from WhatsApp for Business and the P2P payments side. Fewer users also mean very deep engagement. The focus is more on making users reliant on the platform and introducing features like payments to make it more sticky,” he added.
Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC, told BusinessLine, “This is an attempt to cleanse the system. It will surely hit the pace of user acquisition but it will instil faith in serious users and make them feel that they are on a reliable system. It may not be able to gain these many users again but they were problematic users. This is beyond a subscriber issue. WhatsApp is making existing users less vulnerable to problems. This is a short term slowdown in user acquisition.”
Queries emailed to WhatsApp didn’t elicit a response at the time of publication.
WhatsApp’s monetisation play
WhatsApp has been quite active in expanding its WhatsApp for Business service. Several top consumer tech apps — including Uber, Upstox and JioMart — have announced integrations and partnerships with WhatsApp for Business. Users won’t need to go outside WhatsApp or separately download or open these apps to avail their services. This, along with WhatsApp being a messaging app which is used much more frequently than any other app, gives it great scope to eventually become a super app.
“It can become a super app as it has the right underpinnings. However, its payments growth has been slower than expected. It should have been more aggressive. There needs to be a wallet to build a super app. While the idea of WhatsApp for Business is great, not having a robust payment system is also hampering the growth of the platform,” Gogia said.