WhatsApp, one of the most popular cross-platform messaging apps in the world today, has announced that it is removing its annual US$0.99 fee for its users where it applies. Founder Jan Koum has revealed the news on stage at the DLD conference in Munich that while the annual fee might not be too much of a charge, it still puts off many people that don't have access to card payments.
'It really doesn't work that well,' Koum said at the conference. Admittedly, the company discussed that the approach of charging its users with annual subscription fees has not worked well primarily because many of its users still don't have a debit or a credit card, which would be required for paying the charge.
However, the news may have lead people to believe that WhatsApp will be resorting to third party ads for its revenue model. The company claims that it isn't the case and instead will plan to earn money by offering its services to businesses.
'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,' reads the post from the company's official blog. WhatsApp says that this would also mean communicating with the user's bank account whether there's a fraudulent transaction, or contacting the airlines if there's a delayed flight. The company wants to test new tools in order to make it easier to do in their platform while still providing an experience that's ad and spam free as well.
Until now, WhatsApp, the now-owned company by Facebook, has been free for the first year for users and US$0.99 for succeeding years. Now, it will stop charging fees immediately, but it may likely take a couple of weeks until the company's payments infrastructure is out on all versions of the app. However, it's also important to note that customers who have already paid the subscription fee won't be issued a refund.