WhatsApp Drops Subscription Fee, Promises to Stay Ad-free
Article by George Norman
On 18 Jan 2016
WhatsApp, the messaging app that’s used by more than 900 million people, makes money by asking for a small, annual subscription fee. You’re allowed to use the app for free for the first year, but after that you’re asked to pay a $0.99 subscription.

This is no longer the case. WhatsApp just announced that it is dropping the annual subscription fee, making the messaging app free for everyone. Wait, does that mean the app will start to pester you with ads? No, it doesn’t. WhatsApp promises to remain ad-free.


WhatsApp is free for everyone

One dollar per year isn’t much. Still, there are a lot of "maybes" to take into consideration. Maybe I don’t have the means to pay that one dollar. May I don’t have a dollar to spare. Maybe I resent the fact that I have to pay for a messaging app and maybe I doubly resent that it asked me to pay but it didn’t ask any of my friends. That’s always been an issue with WhatsApp. While it asked some users to pay for the annual subscription, it gave others a free ride, extending their trial period for one more year, without asking for any money in return.

All these maybes and issues have been addressed by making WhatsApp free for everyone!

“For many years, we've asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year,” explained the WhatsApp Team. “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. 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.”

WhatsApp promises to remain ad-free

If WhatsApp is dropping the annual subscription, does this mean it will introduce ads? It has to make money somehow, right? And if it can’t make money from subscriptions, does this mean it will try to make money by introducing ads? The quick answer is no. WhatsApp won’t turn to ads to make money. At least that’s what it promised.

“Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no,” said the WhatsApp Team.

So how will WhatsApp make money?

It will generate revenue by offering commercial services to businesses. And more to the point, by offering businesses a means to communicate with their customers.

“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,” said the WhatsApp Team. “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.”

Sorry, no refunds

If you already paid the 99 cents subscription for this year, you won’t get your money back.

Tags: WhatsApp, Facebook, messenger, subscription, money, free, ad-free
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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