January 18, 2016
WhatsApp will now be free to users across the globe thanks to new partnerships with businesses such as banks and airlines.
The Facebook-owned messaging service is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that has enabled users to pay a $1 annual subscription fee to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. In a blog post, however, the company said the yearly fee simply was not working for many of its users.
“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,” the company said in today’s announcement. “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.”
While the announcement immediately conjures up images of WhatsApp becoming inundated with third-party ads, the company has vowed this will not be the case.
“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,” the company said. “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.”
Presumably, that means WhatsApp will be able to strike monetary deals with banks, airlines and other such businesses for the ability to contact their customers via WhatsApp.
The removal of the subscription fee may be just what WhatsApp needs to take it above the one billion monthly user mark. The company currently sits at about 900 million users.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.