Popular real-time messaging app WhatsApp announced today Monday 18 January 2016 that it will no longer be charging customers subscription fees, after their first free year with the service.
The company stated that the approach of giving users a free year with the app, and then removing its features “hasn’t worked well”, since some customers didn’t have credit or debit cards they could use to continue the service, potentially losing contact with friends and family after being blocked behind a paywall.
For many years, the app has asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As the app has grown, it has found that this approach hasn’t worked well.
According to WhatsApp, many 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, the app will remove fees from the different versions of its app and “WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service”, a statement released by WhatsApp read.
WhatsApp confirmed that the messaging service is switching to a custom monetisation model that still won’t center around third-party advertisements. Starting this year, the company will begin testing tools that let users interact with businesses that they care about, which “could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight”, it says.
Plans for the new non-subscription service will begin to rollout “over the next several weeks” to each platform that WhatsApp is available on. Users that have yet to download WhatsApp Messenger can do so from the App Store or Play Store for free.