WhatsApp is dropping its annual subscription fee and making its messaging service completely free.
Consumers used to be charged an annual fee after their first 12 months of using the messaging app.
But the annual fee, of 69p in the UK or $0.99 in the US, is being scrapped immediately, Chief Executive Jam Koum announced on Monday.
It appears as though the annual subscription fee simply wasn’t as successful in generating revenue as the company had hoped.
A WhatsApp blog post said:
“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.”
The messaging app, which Facebook acquired for $19.2 billion in 2014 and now has nearly 1 billion users, still needs to make money though.
But the company promised that there will be no adverts.
So how will WhatsApp make money?
The company is exploring the option of letting restaurants, credit card firms, and airlines pay to contact consumers.
According to the company: “We will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.”
Adding: “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. 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,”
The Facebook-owned messaging service is also expected to offer complete encryption of messages in the coming months as part of an effort to ensure the privacy of users.