WhatsApp is dropping its subscription fees to access the popular messaging service. WhatsApp introduced the fees a few years ago, forcing new users to pay an annual 99 cents subscription after the first year. “As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well,” admits WhatsApp in a company blog post today.
“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.”
If you’ve been using WhatsApp for the six years it has been available then you’ve probably never experienced the subscription fees. Most original users were granted a free lifetime service, but in recent years the company introduced its subscription to new users. Recode reports that if you’ve already paid the 99 cents for the year then there won’t be a refund, but subscription fees will cease immediately.
WhatsApp now has nearly 1 billion users, so the free timing removes the barrier for millions more to join the messaging service. The Facebook-owned service plans appears to be planning to generate revenue through services to businesses. “We will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.” That means you might be able to send WhatsApp messages to your bank or airlines in the future. WhatsApp isn’t planning to enable third-party ads within the service, and it’s sticking to its original principles. The founders of WhatsApp were strongly opposed to ads, noting back in 2012 that “when advertising is involved you the user are the product.”