Feature Article

April 10, 2014

WhatsApp Offers Prepaid SIMs in Germany on E-Plus

WhatsApp, a messaging service, has partnered with E-Plus, a mobile telecom operator, to offer prepaid SIMs in Germany. They provide unlimited WhatsApp usage.

The selection of Germany makes sense. WhatsApp, which globally has about half a billion users, is found on about 90 percent of smartphones in Germany. That translates to some 30 million users, according to AndroidNext.

TechCrunch also reports the partnership represents the first time WhatsApp and a carrier are working together to sell a SIM. The partnership is also in effect providing a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service. They typically let a company make bulk purchases of minutes and data packages from operators.

“WhatsApp has over 50 carrier deals globally. The WhatsApp ePlus SIM card is WhatsApp’s first partnership with e-Plus … to launch an MVNO brand,” Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s head of business development, told TechCrunch. “This is the first kind of its deal globally between a technology company and a carrier. Carriers are important strategic partners for WhatsApp and we’re constantly working with them to bring innovative offerings to users globally.”

The partnership was announced at the Mobile World Congress in February, but only recently began being offered. The offering could very well in the future be found in some other nations besides Germany. 

One potential market may be India, but as of now, MVNOs are not allowed there by the government. But looking ahead, the Indian government “still intends to allow MVNO’s in India,” according to a report from Medianama. But if WhatsApp wanted to offer the service now, there are some options it could consider. One would be co-branding.

“It would partner with telecom operators to launch a WhatsApp SIM with similar terms,” according to Medianama. Another option may be a franchise agreement, such as “the type between Virgin Mobile and Tata Teleservices,” Medianama adds.

Meanwhile, under the new partnership offering in Germany, there is unlimited WhatsApp usage, as well as data, mobile voice and text messages.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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