Facebook's WhatsApp will no longer charge users for its services. Not all users have been paying for it anyway, but now nobody will have to.
Even though they're doing away with charges, they're still not introducing ads, as you would likely expect.
A post on the WhatsApp site says:
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. 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.
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. 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.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of new opportunities for businesses arise from this strategy. From the sound of it, Facebook is taking a similar approach with Whatsapp to the one it's starting to take with Messenger.
Image via WhatsApp