WhatsApp is dropping its yearly charge and will soon be free to all users. The messaging app has traditionally been free for one year, after which users had to pay 99 cents/69p a year to keep using it.
Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, said at the DLD conference in Munich that the charge will be dropped, and there won't be any more charges going forward. What isn't yet clear is how WhatsApp plans to monetise the move.
Free for life
WhatsApp said in a blog post: "As we've grown, we've found that this approach hasn't worked well."
"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."
At the moment Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, uses data and ads to make money, but it's not going to go down well if the messaging app decides to go down the same route.
WhatsApp isn't looking to use an advertising-based model though. The blog post added: "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."
Although the charge isn't much, and most users are willing to pay – over 900 million of them – it does mean you'll soon be able to use WhatsApp without having to have any payment details attached to your account.
It looks like the fee is still in place right now, but expect it to be dropped soon – and bad luck if you've already paid for this year.
Via The Next Web