Whatsapp has announced it will drop its subscription fee, making the service free for everyone. Even better, it won’t start showing third-party ads to users, though it has an idea on how to better connect users with business and organizations.
The change, announced in an official blog post Monday, removes the fee that was imposed on some users after a year of use.
“For many years, we’ve asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well,” the blog post reads.
The fees will be removed from various versions of Whatsapp “over the next several weeks.”
Whatsapp readily acknowledges that killing its only source of income will raise questions about introducing third-party ads. But the company has a different idea.
“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,” the post reads.
We reckon Whatsapp will charge organizations and business for establishing channels with their users through the service, though no details were announced. The idea is by no means new; a Bloomberg report in May 2015 claimed Whatsapp might foray into B2C messaging in the “longer term.”
Whatsapp, which has been acquired by Facebook for $16 billion in Feb. 2014, currently has “nearly” 1 billion users, according to the post. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said on several occasions he expects the service to hit that milestone, at which point it would become ripe for monetization.