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WhatsApp marches on, now has 1 billion monthly users

It was never a matter of “if,” but merely “when.” WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, on Monday announced it’s finally bust through the billion-user barrier.

“We are proud of this milestone, and we’re humbled by the extraordinary ways all of you have used WhatsApp,” the company said in a post announcing the achievement, adding that it was “excited to see how far we’ve come.”

News that the messaging app now has a billion monthly active users is certain to put a big smile on the face of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who was instrumental in the move to acquire WhatsApp for a jaw-dropping $19 billion in 2014, five years after the app launched.

Despite being the most-used messaging app in the world, WhatsApp doesn’t actually make any money. At least, not yet. In line with the long-held promise of WhatsApp founder and CEO Jan Koum, the app has never developed any kind of ad platform, and its only revenue stream, a $1 fee levied on users after a year, was recently scrapped. Both Koum and Zuckerberg have recently suggested monetization will be achieved by developing features within WhatsApp that help businesses connect with customers.

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Alongside WhatsApp, Facebook also has another massive messaging app in its stable – Messenger. The company recently announced that Messenger now has 800 million users, and it’s growing at such a rate that it could challenge WhatsApp before the end of the year. However, WhatsApp’s recent decision to do away  with its $1 fee is likely to give its user numbers a further boost, especially in developing countries where Koum said the charge prevented a lot of people  – particularly those without a payment card – from signing up.

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Following apparently short-lived celebrations, the team said in its Monday blog post, “It’s back to work – because we still have another six billion people to get on WhatsApp, and a long way left to go.” Considering WhatsApp’s phenomenal growth, perhaps achieving this highly ambitious goal is once again a matter of “when,” not “if.”