Viber to launch biggest group chat with up to 1 billion members

Viber’s group chats will allow admins to monetise the streams and tap into a network of app partners.

Female's hand typing text on her cellphone in a public transport
Female's hand typing text on her cellphone in a public transport (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cross-platform instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) application Viber on Thursday announced the biggest group chat - Viber Community, with group "limits" of up to one billion members, in a bid to drive more usage and bring in more users to the app.

Members of the groups will be able to interact with comments and reactions, and group administrators will be able to monetise the streams, tapping into a network of app partners and the larger e-commerce and media business of Rakuten, which owns Viber, according to a report by TechCrunch.

Viber's launch of Communities comes at an interesting time for the app.

Once in the running alongside WhatsApp to be a leader in the global messaging market, since getting acquired by Rakuten in 2014 for $900 million, Viber hasn't been forthcoming about its active user base.

It has, instead, focused on how many people currently have the app on their device, which as of now numbers just over one billion.

Given the popularity of the large group chat features of the other similar apps, Viber could be hoping this launch will drive more active usage of the app, and maybe new users.

By essentially creating Communities around interests and giving them the ability to be as big as the app's own userbase, it gives Viber a play at presenting itself less as a messaging app, and more as a social network.