WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, is to drop its token subscription fee and is instead looking to monetise communication between companies and users, which could open up some exciting marketing opportunities for charities.
The company’s chief executive, Jan Koum, confirmed that the $0.99 annual fee will be scrapped with immediate effect.
Previously, WhatsApp had been free for the first year, with the fee charged for every subsequent year. Long-term users of the iOS version were given free use for life, as a thanks for paying a fee to download the app when it had a one-off charge.
The company will try to earn revenue by monetising communication between businesses and individuals – but Koum also said that the beneficence of WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, means that earning revenue is not the top priority.
This doesn’t mean more ads
In a blogpost, WhatsApp confirmed that money will not be made from the introduction of third-party ads. Instead, later this year WhatsApp will begin testing a tool that enable users to communicate with businesses and organisations they want to hear from.
The company said that could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight – just as is the case with text and phone communication.
Although the fee is small, WhatsApp says it has harmed its growth.
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