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WhatsApp just ended subscription fees

WhatsApp just ended subscription fees
image courtesy of Wired/ Shutterstock

If you use your smartphone to communicate a lot, or you have a family member who's in their teens or 20s, you're familiar with messaging apps. Instead of texting, emailing, or logging onto social media websites like Facebook, you just tap on an app to send a message.

Messenger apps are hugely popular, including Facebook's Messenger, which has 700-plus million subscribers. Facebook also owns WhatsApp, which has been around in one form or another for 20 years. WhatsApp users send more than 1 billion messages every day.

WhatsApp is an almost-free messenger app. Specifically, it has cost subscribers just under $1 to subscribe each year to the service, after a complimentary first year.

However, WhatsApp is even dropping that nominal fee. Soon, you won't have to pay anything to use it. That's according to WhatsApp founder, Jan Koum, who recently spoke about the change at a conference.

"We just don't want people to think, at some point, their communication to the world will be cut off." He said the pay-subscription model doesn't work well, in part because credit cards aren't commonplace in some parts of the world.

Dropping its fee is closer in style to Facebook's business model. The social media company, which is worth tens of billions of dollars, has steered clear of traditional ads.

Instead, Facebook forges more organic interactions between its subscribers and its advertisers. In other words, instead of clicking on advertisements, you might use Facebook to directly contact one of its advertisers.

Koum addressed this, too. "People might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees, and [whether this] announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no."

He says WhatsApp hasn't figured out yet how it will make money, saying not a single line of computer code has been written. But he said the company is looking into options, such as testing "tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from."

Keep reading Happening Now for WhatsApp updates.

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Source: Re/code
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