Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced on Monday it was eliminating the annual subscription model to all users around the world and exploring new ways for businesses to interact with customers. The world's largest cross-platform messaging application also said it would not be serving ads within the service.
In an official blog post on Monday, the company said it would remove all traces of billing options from its apps across various platforms over the next few weeks. WhatsApp also assured users the decision to make the app completely free does not mean it would introduce third-party ads, but instead would explore new ways for businesses to communicate with users, and vice versa.
"Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations 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," the company said in a blog post.
The idea to bring about a new change in the B2C business interactions sounds like Facebook Messenger, a standalone app which already allows users to chat with businesses and organisations. But it will be a while before we actually see the new change come into effect as WhatsApp's founder Jan Koum said the company hasn't "written a single line of code yet," according to Re/Code.
WhatsApp users were asked to pay 99 cents after one year of free service in countries like the US, but reserved the free model for emerging markets such as India, due to low penetration of debit and credit cards.
Koum has repeatedly assured users WhatsApp will remain ad-free, but concerns were raised after Facebook took over the company for $19 billion last year. With the latest announcement, users can be assured there will be no ads on WhatsApp and now it will be free, too.