Popular messaging platform WhatsApp has announced it will drop its $0.99 subscription fee, making the platform free for its nearly one billion users worldwide.
In a blog post announcing the change, the company said it found a subscription-based service no longer worked for its users. Previously, users had free access to WhatsApp for one year after signing up for the service, but were charged $0.99 for every subsequent year. However, iPhone users who paid to download the app in the first place did not have to pay the yearly fee.
“For many years, we’ve asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well. 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,” read a statement issued over the weekend.
“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.”
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But the company has also promised not to inundate the platform with ads in order to generate more revenue. WhatsApp said it will instead start testing tools that allow users to communicate with businesses.
“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,” said the company.