WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging service has announced that it is going free forever.
The Facebook owned service has been free in India, for years, but did charge a small amount $0.99 in many Countries for a year’s subscription.
It is this annual subscription fee, which is being done away with. The reasoning behind this is quite simple, WhatsApp says that many of its users do not have a mode of payment (a debit card or credit card), and this used to be a requirement for paying the annual fee after the first free year.
WhatsApp will update its apps on all platforms, over the the next several weeks, too reflect that it is going free.
This move while it is a welcome one, does raise one question, how will WhatsApp make money if it foes free? The company says it will remain ad-free. It says that it will even be creating new tools for allowing users to communicate with businesses and organizations, including banks using in-app text messages and calls (without any form of spam or ads).
Last year, WhatsApp added the ability to allow users to make voice calls for free, while on a data or Wifi network. It is rumoured to be working on introducing video calls as well.
Though it hasn’t said how it will be making money, it is likely that WhatsApp may charge a fee from these businesses for allowing them to use their service. Another way for WhatsApp to make money is by allowing users to make calls directly to phone numbers (who don’t use WhatsApp, landlines, etc), by charging a fee, like Skype does. These are merely our speculations, and does not guarantee this is likely to happen.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, for about $14 Billion, and is one of the most used Instant Messaging apps in the World.