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WhatsApp Crosses 2 Billion Users Globally The US-based company has long become one of the most used mobile applications across the world, with India serving as its largest user base.

By Debroop Roy

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Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has crossed the two billion user mark globally, the company said on Wednesday.

"WhatsApp started with the goal of creating a service that is simple, reliable, and private for people to use. Today we remain as committed as when we started, to help connect the world privately and to protect the personal communication of two billion users all over the world," the company said in a statement.

Founded in 2009, the cross-platform freeware has long become one of the most used mobile applications across the world, and while it started with text messaging, it now allows for voice and video calling, as well as the sharing of various kinds of media.

The service was started by two former Yahoo! employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who sold it to Facebook in a staggering $19 billion deal in 2014. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg had said two years ago that the service was used by 1.5 billion users.

Potential In India

India is the biggest market for the messaging service, with the company announcing in July last year that it had crossed 400 million users in the country.

The company sees India as more than a mere place to gain the most number of users. This unique user base, a large part of which got introduced to the internet only recently with the availability of cheap smartphones and data packs, is an ideal ground for the service to roll out its payments platform.

While the payments service was launched in pilot-mode two years ago in India, with the permission to operate with one million users, it hit a roadblock when the Reserve Bank of India reportedly blocked a full-fledged launch for the service, citing data localization norms.

The messaging service has also faced flak for multiple data breaches in the recent past. Israeli-spyware Pegasus snooped into the phones of over a hundred users in India, in what was deemed to be a targeted attempt at journalists and activists.

However, in a silver lining for the company, Zuckerberg confirmed during Facebook's post-earnings call in January that the UPI-based WhatsApp Pay would officially be available to everyone in India soon.

The company had seen the potential for WhatsApp Pay in India after the pilot was launched, he had said.

Apart from WhatsApp Pay, the company also has plans for the bustling start-up ecosystem in India. It announced plans to provide $250,000 worth of ad-credits to Indian start-ups in November.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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