Bengaluru: WhatsApp to cease annual subscription fee, will be free

Bengaluru, Jan 18 (IANS) Global instant messaging behemoth WhatsApp on Monday said it will waive its annual subscription fee over the next several weeks as it has not worked well.

“For many years, we have asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we have grown, we have found that this approach hasn’t worked well,” said WhatsApp in a blog post.

Despite not being able to charge its hundreds of millions of users the annual fee, WhatsApp said it would not subject its users to advertisements.

“Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we are introducing third-party advertisements. The answer is no,” said the WhatsApp blog post.

Where then will WhatsApp’s revenue come from?

Without clearly defining the revenue model, WhatsApp said it would test tools starting from 2016 which could replace text messages and phone calls mode of communication between people and businesses and organisations.

“We will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations that you want to hear from.”

Promising zero third-party advertisement and spam, WhatsApp 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.”

Reaching out to many WhatsApp users without a debit or credit card across countries is also an objective of the move.

“Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they would lose access to their friends and family after their first year,” said the blogpost.

Founded by Ukrainian immigrants to America Jan Koum and Brian Acton in 2009, WhatsApp got acquired by social media giant Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.

Both Koum and Acton were former employees of technology company Yahoo.

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