WhatsApp has decided to scrap its already very low ($1) annual subscription fee, the Facebook-owned company revealed today. Despite having a billion subscribers, the messaging app failed to monetize its popularity, and now it is moving in a different direction for profit.
If you are afraid that the free subscription will lead to third party advertisements on WhatsApp, the company has a good news for you – it will not monetize on them. Instead, it will test tools that allow you to communicate with businesses that are relevant to you, such as your bank messages and your travel information.
While Facebook/WhatsApp wants to monetize on the usage of the service, there is also an understanding that some folks don’t have the requirements needed. Meaning, that since some folks in developing countries don’t have a credit or debit card, those users have no way to pay for the subscription after the first free year is up.
We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.
So basically, WhatsApp will be similar to a regular SMS client, except it won’t require phone credits to text or call. This is a great move who rely on WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family, but don’t have the means to pay for the subscription. It will be interesting to see how the company integrates monetization into the application, without being too intrusive.