Teams at Meta have been discussing whether to show ads in lists of conversations with contacts on the WhatsApp chat screen, but no final decisions have been made, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Citing a person with close knowledge of the discussions, a report by The Financial Times said that the concept of bringing ads to WhatsApp has been debated at a high level within the company because of concerns that the move would alienate users.
It was also claimed that the company was discussing a subscription model that will allow users to use an ad-free version “but many insiders are against the move.”
What Meta has to say
Refuting the report, WhatsApp parent Meta said, “We can’t account for every conversation someone had in our company but we are not testing this, working on it, and it’s not our plan at all.”
Meanwhile, WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart wrote on X: “This @FT story is false. We aren’t doing this.”
WhatsApp monetising chats: Report
This is not the first time a report has claimed that the company was looking to monetise WhatsApp. Earlier this month, a report by CNBC claimed that Meta is looking to make WhatsApp a profitable asset.
It claimed that WhatsApp is planning to leverage its huge consumer base in countries like India and Brazil to generate revenue by monetising business conversations with customers.
“It’s been clear for many years that people are trying to connect with businesses on WhatsApp,” the report also quoted Alice Newton-Rex, WhatsApp’s London unit’s product director, as saying.
“If you go to India or Brazil and you look around, you’ll see WhatsApp numbers posted up in shop windows everywhere. This is how businesses want to engage with their customers,” Newton-Rex added.
The report also highlighted that consumers in India use WhatsApp to engage with businesses, such as to book Uber rides and get movie recommendations on their Netflix accounts. This means that the more conversations, the more revenue for WhatsApp.