What's the text?

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA

Q: We provide smartphones to our 120 sales reps, who primarily use them to send and receive thousands of text messages to and from their overseas customers. However, these customers often use other carriers, and, as a result, the text messages exceeding a relatively low messaging-plan threshold cost us a few cents each. The accumulated costs are fairly high. Is there a less-expensive messaging plan alternative?

A: A solution called WhatsApp Messenger (whatsapp.com) (priced at 99 cents per year, with the first year free) allows your employees to send unlimited free text messages to other smartphone users throughout the world, even if they use different carriers. With WhatsApp, text messages are transmitted for free by exchanging messages over the internet, rather than through a smartphone carrier, so no messaging charges result. (WhatsApp has been operating for more than five years and has more than 450 million users. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in February, and thus far indications are the solution will continue to operate using the same policies and pricing structure.) 

To use WhatsApp, download and install the app on your smartphone, and ask others you wish to communicate with to do the same. Afterward, launch WhatsApp, enter your cellphone number when prompted, then wait for the app to verify your number and search your contacts for other WhatsApp members.

Once that process is complete, you are ready to send text messages to other WhatsApp users for free. In the future, send text messages through WhatsApp instead of using your smartphone’s built-in text messaging app. Two WhatsApp example screens are shown below. 

 

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