If you are a frequent user of WhatsApp but you feel like the $0.99 “subscription fee” after the first year of free use, is pretty unnecessary, then you’ll be pretty happy to know that the folks over there (and at Facebook, which owns the messaging app) finally agree with you. The founder of the popular messaging service, Jan Koum, said that they are now removing the annual fee so that there will be no “barrier” from other people signing up for the service.
“We just don’t want people to think at some point their communication to the world will be cut off,” Koum said. The subscription fees have now ended immediately, but the payment infrastructure may not be completely removed yet from all versions of the app. But of course eventually, it will be. Unfortunately for those who have already been paying, there are no refunds in sight of course.
This doesn’t mean though that they will be switching to an advertising model. Instead, they are exploring other methods of monetization, like allowing businesses and organizations to use the service to communicate with their customers or users. This can be useful for airlines, restaurants, banks, carriers, OEMs, stores, plus other businesses that can benefit from being easily contacted by their customers.
While some customers are actually doing this already, Koum said that they are looking into making this easier for both the businesses and the customers. “The long term bet is that by enabling people to have good organic interactions with businesses, that will end up being a massive multiplier on the value of the monetization down the road when we work on that and really focus on that in a bigger way,” he said.