In a world first WhatsApp has teamed with a German network provider to offer its own SIM with free WhatsApp messaging. This is a step towards making WhatsApp an MVNO, meaning a carrier that doesn’t own an actual network – like GiffGaff.
Initially this offer is in Germany only using the e-Plus network where the €10 SIM gives unlimited WhatsApp messaging. The €10 goes towards call credit which is charged at nine euro cents per minute, or data which is 24 euro cents per megabyte. For an extra €10, users get 600 credits that can be used interchangeably for one megabyte of data, one minute of talk or one SMS - each charged at one credit). Users still have to pay the 99 US cent fee for WhatsApp use, according to Tech Crunch.
WhatsApp's voice service doesn't appear to be available at this stage in Germany. This could represent a way to give away even more free services to users in the future.
Facebook's attempts to release mobile phones make its purchase of WhatsApp a potential new way into user's pockets via carriers.
To encourage the SIM popularity WhatsApp is offering an extra €10 credit to anyone who gets two new users to sign up for a SIM.
Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s head of business development says: "WhatsApp has over 50 carrier deals globally. The WhatsApp ePlus SIM card is WhatsApp’s first partnership with e-Plus (a carrier) to launch an MVNO brand. 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."