WhatsApp launches prepaid service; Facebook's Indian users top 100M

|About: Facebook (FB)|By:, SA News Editor

WhatsApp (FB +2.8%) is partnering with German carrier E-Plus to launch a €10 ($14) prepaid SIM card that provides unlimited access to its mobile messaging services (no data charges apply) to go with regular voice/SMS/data services. Even after the SIM credit is used up, WhatsApp remains available.

Notably, the SIM card is provided under WhatsApp's brand, effectively making the startup an MVNO. With an estimated 90% of German smartphone users having already installed WhatsApp, there's a large installed base to sell to.

WhatsApp, used as an SMS replacement by a huge chunk of its 465M+ global MAUs, already has deals with 50+ carriers. Many of those deals, such as one with India's Reliance, provide unlimited WhatsApp usage for a small monthly fee. Facebook proper is looking to strike deals that provide free/subsidized access to its core services; the carrier response has been mixed.

Meanwhile, a Facebook exec has told the Economic Times his company's Indian MAU base has topped 100M. That makes India (population 1.24B) Facebook's second-biggest market after the U.S. (182M MAUs). Brazil is #3 (83M), and Indonesia #4 (65M).

Globally, Facebook had 1.23B MAUs at the end of 2013. Since then, the company's mobile MAU base has surpassed 1B.