WhatsApp is set to become a free service as Jan Koum, founder of the instant-messaging app, revealed the company is dropping its annual subscription fee of 99 cents to explore new avenues in monetising the business.
Speaking at the DLD conference in Munich, Koum simply said: "It really doesn't work that well." Traditionally the messaging app has been free for one year, after which users had to pay a nominal fee to continue with the service. However what isn't entirely clear as of yet is how WhatsApp plans to monetise this move.
However what is clear and perhaps a relief, WhatsApp's aim is to avoid spam and unwanted advertising, and furthermore explore ways businesses can use the service to connect with individuals, similar to its parent company Facebook's Messenger, where users can make payments or use taxi service Uber.
In its official blog post, WhatsApp said:
"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."
Despite Facebook turning Messenger into a success and without the use of banners, Koum's business idea is still set in theory and added: "We haven't written a single line of code yet."