WhatsApp has announced that it is going to end its $1 annual subscription fee in the coming weeks. It has further hinted that WhatsApp may evolve into a platform where users can communicate with businesses and organizations. However, WhatsApp has categorically said it will not be introducing third-party advertisements as a business model. Also Read - WhatsApp beta for iOS reveals changes, here's what users might getAlso Read - How to temporarily deactivate/permanently delete WhatsApp account
As a part of its subscription plan, WhatsApp was free for the first year and would charge users $1 as an annual subscription fee. It s worth pointing out here that WhatsApp has remained free in emerging markets such as India, one of the main factors behind company s tremendous growth over the years. WhatsApp acknowledged that its annual subscription model, even though it was just $1 was not doing well. Also Read - WhatsApp COVID-19 relief efforts: How you can get resources during the pandemic
Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year. So over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service, the Facebook-owned messenger service explained in a blog post announcing the move.
After its acquisition by Facebook, it has been long speculated that WhatsApp may change its policies and monetize through ads. WhatsApp however says it is not looking at advertising or any other model that could increase spam.
“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today through text messages and phone calls so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam,” the company said.
The move comes shortly after Facebook reported a meteoric growth of its Messenger platform. Facebook this month revealed its Messenger platform had gone past 800 million monthly active users whereas WhatsApp had hit 800 million monthly active users in September 2015 and has not announced new numbers.
Facebook s approach for Messenger is bit different from WhatsApp. Messenger is being evolved as a standalone platform that lets you do multiple things such as Send and Receive Money and Virtual Business cards among others. WhatsApp, on the other hand, is likely to stay a primarily messaging and calling service.