Popular real-time messaging app WhatsApp today announced that it will no longer be charging customers subscription fees after their first free year with the service.
Mobile messaging service WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, said it will no longer charge annual subscription fees and plans to test tools to allow users to communicate directly with businesses and organizations via the app.
The company noted 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.
WhatsApp had made it’s service free in India a year back and now is making the same move for the rest of the world. This does not mean WhatsApp will not earn anything. WhatsApp confirmed that the messaging service is switching to a custom monetization model that still won’t center around third-party advertisements. The messaging service has 900 million users worldwide and works across different types of phones, said it does not plan to launch third-party advertising to generate revenue.
Plans for the new non-subscription service will begin to roll out “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 for free.It only charges an annual subscription fee of 99 U.S. cents or the equivalent, which is waived for the first year, and said it would end its subscription fees over the next several weeks.