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WhatsApp to ditch annual $1 subscription fee and instead focus on businesses for revenues

23.02.14_technewsrprt_img_stories_regina-timothy_whatsapp
There is good news for WhatsApp users—the popular messaging app will not charge a fee after one year of use.

“For many years, we have asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we have grown, we have found that this approach hasn’t worked well,” the company said on Monday in a blog post .

“We will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations that you want to hear from.”

Promising zero third-party advertisement and spam, WhatsApp said, “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.”

Reaching out to many WhatsApp users without a debit or credit card across countries is also an objective of the move.

“Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they would lose access to their friends and family after their first year,” said the blogpost.

“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. 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.”

In effect, WhatsApp is becoming a platform, and by the sound of things, almost identical to Facebook Messenger, which is also moving toward becoming a platform. Facebook Messenger eliminated the need for a Facebook account last year, letting those on mobile sign up with just their phone number — exactly as they can with WhatsApp. There are some key differences between Facebook’s two messaging services, though — for example, Facebook Messenger is built upon Facebook’s social graph and, well, WhatsApp isn’t.

Now that WhatsApp is hovering around the billion MAU mark, it seems Facebook is starting to look at ways to make money from it. As a side point, by the end of 2016, it’s possible that Facebook will own two messaging apps with around one billion monthly users each, which is phenomenal. It also goes some way toward justifying the $22 billion it paid for WhatsApp in 2014.

Ditching the dollar fee will remove any remaining friction for those who have hitherto been unable to use WhatsApp. And at the same time, Facebook has just given us a glimpse of how it plans to make money from the messaging app

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