Facebook-owned Whatsapp might have begun commercialising its messaging platform in India just two years ago, but recent disclosures with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) show that Whatsapp India has gone from nil revenue in the 2017-18 financial year (FY18) to actually turning a profit in FY19.
According to the RoC documents, the unit’s revenues have been derived from its IT-enabled business process and outsourcing services. The messaging platform, which has rapidly become the most preferred messaging service in India, had launched its first business offering for entrepreneurs and corporates in January last year with the roll out Whatsapp Business.
The filings made for FY18 and FY19 show how rapidly Whatsapp Business has taken off in the Indian market, with revenues going from nil to Rs 6.84 crore in just a year. The first full financial year of Whatsapp Business operations has also netted the Facebook unit a profit of Rs 57.18 lakh, a rare occurrence for a nascent business vertical. Especially in the internet-enabled services segment.
At its core, Whatsapp Business allows business owners to share information on the services they provide and other information (on offers, special sales etc) with customers on the platform.
Analysts and industry executives note that the sheer scale of messaging platform (it has a user base of over 400 million currently in India) and the advantages offered to small enterprises who avail Whatsapp Business services has been the primary driver of the unit’s success. According to Whatsapp officials, the business services platform has helped over 80 per cent of its business partners increase their sales.
“India is our largest market and it will drive a lot of our innovations,” Whatsapp India’s chief Abhijit Bose had said at an event earlier this month. Bose had gone on to add that a priority for the company was expanding its suite of solutions in the business process space. “We are focused on expanding our merchant file so that businesses can use WhatsApp more. We want to keep investing and adding features to bring more businesses online,” Bose has said.
Whatsapp Business has already seen a flood of new features and functionalities added to it over the course of the past year. For instance, in January, the platform had launched offerings like Quick Replies, Labels and Chat List Filtering on its desktop platform. All these had only been available in the firm’s mobile app before.
More recently, in November this year, the company had rolled out a new catalog feature for its business customers, which allows them to showcase and share their product portfolios to their customers.