WhatsApp, the hugely popular messaging app owned by Facebook, is changing how it works.
Gone is the annual subscription fee that you’re used to paying and which helped swell its coffers in the past.
In comes a fresh approach that will see WhatsApp look for new, as-yet-unspecified ways to fund the service.
So, how will this affect you? Read on and we’ll reveal all.
1 No more upfront costs
Until now, WhatsApp has asked for money from its users.
People signing up got their first year free and were then asked to pay just $1 to use the service per year after that.
WhatsApp founder Jan Koum revealed today that that the annual fee is being scrapped.
It means if you sign–up to WhatsApp, you won’t have to pay or hand over your bank details to do so.
But there’ll be no refunds
If you’ve just signed up for a paid WhatsApp subscription, the bad news is that you won’t be getting your money back.
Annoying? Yes, for sure. But then at the same time, you’ve only 70p or so to use the best smartphone messaging service around. So at least you’re not hugely out of pocket.
Reading between the lines, WhatsApp’s reasons for doing away with the annual charge are fairly clear.
It’s all down to the company targeting growth in developing markets where it’s not as ubiquitous as it is on these shores.
Many of these may not have the debit or credit card that’s required to pay for an annual subscription.
That means numbers don’t grow, which means WhatsApp makes less money. By cutting the fee, its user base should boom.
But will we now have to watch adverts?
The worry for many is that WhatsApp, a service that’s suffered from spam in the past, will turn to ads in order to plug the funding gap. Not so, it says.
After Koum made the announcement, an official blog post outlined the company’s plans and made sure to clear up any concerns.
“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.”
So how will it be funded then?
Rather than ads, WhatsApp says it is going to look further into tying up with businesses.
That means striking deals with the likes of utility companies, airlines and retailers in order to make the platform a one–stop shop for those looking to communicate with the services they use.
It could mean paying bills, rearranging deliveries and getting up–to–date travel data all comes via WhatsApp.