WhatsApp Offers SIM Cards to Germans Following New Partnership

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WhatsApp (NASDAQ:FB)¬†announced Monday that it has started selling prepaid SIM cards in Germany. The cards give users unlimited access to WhatsApp without utilizing customers’ data allotments and effectively make WhatsApp a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), otherwise known as a carrier that doesn’t actually operate its own network, according to a TechCrunch report.

The deal, which was originally hinted at in February, marks the first time that WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook earlier this year, has partnered with a wireless carrier to offer SIM cards. The SIM cards now on sale in Germany are complete with WhatsApp branding and free WhatsApp data usage.

The WhatsApp-ePlus SIM cards are currently priced at 10 euros apiece (roughly $14,) and users get a 10-euro credit for their first SIM card purchase, which can go to either domestic voice calls, domestic SMS, or 24 euro cents per megabyte of data.

The company is also offering the WhatsAll option, which costs an extra 10 euros but gives customers 600 credits that can be used interchangeably for voice calls, SMS, or data, according to TechCrunch and IntoMobile. SIM cards also give customers access to unlimited WhatsApp messaging, even if they’ve already spent all the credits on their SIM.

WhatsApp claims that the deal marks the first time a tech company has partnered with a carrier in order to provide an MVNO service. “WhatsApp has over 50 carrier deals globally. The WhatsApp ePlus SIM card is WhatsApp’s first partnership with ePlus to launch an MVNO brand,” said Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s head of business development, per TechCrunch.

WhatsApp is already very popular in Germany, where the SIM cards are being launched. The messaging service is apparently installed on about 90 percent of German smartphones, amounting to about 30 million users. TechCrunch notes that it’s because Germany is a “safe” space for WhatsApp that the company decided to try out its new partnership and SIM card launch there.

Seeing whether customers will bite the bullet and shell out for a WhatsApp SIM card is the first step in deciding whether other services, such as voice calls, will be successful there, too.

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