WhatsApp has confirmed it is to drop its annual $1 subscription fee, with the Facebook–owned messaging service set to go free from 19th January.
The announcement was made by Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, at a conference in Munich.
It calls time on a business model that has existed since the service was founded and which saw users given free use of the service for their first year before having to pay a dollar every twelve months thereafter.
WhatsApp has directly addressed concerns about whether scrapping the fee means users being sent ads to cover costs.
In an official blog post, it 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.”
Instead, it will hook up with businesses to try and 'unify messaging' from the likes of banks and airlines.
So you might get a message from your bank about what appears to be a fraudulent transaction. Or your airline could notify you about a delayed flight.
The aim appears to be to try and make WhatsApp the go–to tool for getting day–to–day errands done.
It’s also likely that as WhatsApp launches in countries where users do not always have debit or credit cards, it needs to be less reliant on such payment methods.