Why is WhatsApp More Popular Than SMS in Europe? (Infographic)

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In 2024, this Facebook-owned chat app hit global monthly active users of 2.8 billion, which has led many people to believe that it would soon replace SMS as the standard form for mobile.

Although SMS is still the leader in mobile communication, particularly in the U.S., there are some regions, such as Europe, where WhatsApp is fast becoming the mobile messaging platform of choice both among private users and businesses.

According to Statista, of the mobile phone internet users in the UK,84% actively use the app, and correspondingly, 81% in Italy, 73% in Spain, 65% in Germany, and 23% in France.

In contrast, only one-third of internet users in the United States have downloaded and use the app – most of which are people who have traveled to or have friends in Europe.

So why is it that WhatsApp has become so popular among Europeans? Here’s why:

Cost

The primary reason why WhatsApp is more popular than SMS in Europe is that it’s free and SMS is not. Unlike in the U.S. where SMS texting is priced at a flat rate and comes standard on nearly all mobile carriers, a single SMS text message in Europe can costs around 0.07 to 0.11 Euro cents, making it more costly to use than WhatsApp. Some EU mobile carriers also allow their users to opt out text messaging as part of their bundle, and alternatively offer more enticing data packages to their customers.

U.S. mobile users traveling to Europe will also find WhatsApp more practical to use since most U.S. mobile carriers charge a hefty fee for international text messaging. As such, instead of getting a local number once they arrive, most U.S. travelers instead download WhatsApp before they travel to Europe.

While users need a working internet connection to send a message on WhatsApp, it is not a big issue for Europeans since the region already has extensive 3G or 4G data connections available. While mobile  data usage does not come free, users do regularly have the option to connect to free Wi-Fi networks (while securely sending messages since WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption), and they don’t have to pay for every single message as well.

Supported Message Types

Another reason for greater Europeans WhatsApp usage over SMS is that the former allows them to send more types of content than the latter. Aside from the fact that a single SMS message only allows for 160 characters, this platform also does not support voice messages, images, videos, audio files, documents. In case they want to send these types of content, they need to use MMS instead, which is more expensive than a standard SMS.

On the other hand, WhatsApp allows users to send text messages to other WhatsApp users without counting words and without restrictions on multimedia attachments – all for free.

Group Messaging and Business-Grade Features

While both SMS and WhatsApp support group messaging, there’s a significant difference in how they work.  While European users can send text messages to multiple recipients through SMS, the replies will appear as individual conversations on the SMS app, compared to the threaded view that WhatsApp has.

WhatsApp has also introduced new features that especially cater to the needs of businesses. WhatsApp Business is a new version of the app that allows companies to create business profiles, allow multiple accounts to manage a profile, and take advantage of analytics – features that are only available on enterprise text messaging solutions but not on standard SMS apps which most mobile devices have.

WhatsApp and SMS – though have the same user base, serve a different purpose. While SMS uses a cellular network to allow people to send short and urgent messages, WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that is most effective for users that are always connected to the internet and want to have a more engaging mobile conversation with their peers.

In the business perspective, both channels can significantly help European companies to improve their internal communications and customer engagement, though their usage in business requires proper supervision and controls. For instance, financial companies in Europe that allow their employees to use SMS text messaging and WhatsApp at work must be able to capture and record the messages in order to comply with MiFID mobile phone recording regulations.

Whether you use SMS or WhatsApp in your business,  you must record mobile messages and capture voice calls that were made through these apps to stay compliant with various text message archiving and call recording regulations.

TeleMessage’s WhatsAppArchiver is a unique platform tailor-made to solve compliance and regulation issues by capturing and archiving WhatsApp chats. This platform works exactly like the standard WhatsApp application, ensuring that your employees will still be able to send work-related communications easily and quickly.

The benefits of using TeleMessageWhatsAppArchiver in your business include:

  • Archive all WhatsApp communications
  • Use WhatsApp to communicate with customers, employees, and stakeholders
  • Search, track and retrieve WhatsApp messages in the corporate archive
  • Deposit WhatsApp messages with any email archiving vendor
  • Full administration and reporting

Compliant with MiFID II, FINRA, FERC, Public Records, GDPR, FCA and other regulations, the TeleMessage WhatsApp Capture is the latest addition to our mobile archiving products that securely capture text messages, emails, voice calls, and other mobile content from mobile carriers and mobile devices for a variety of ownership models (BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued). With our multiple archiving methods, you can always find the right tools or blend for your requirements:

TeleMessage offers cross-carrier and international mobile text and calls archiving for Corporate and BYOD phones. Visit www.telemessage.com to learn more about our enterprise mobile archiver’s capabilities or Contact Us to try our mobile archiving products today.

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