WhatsApp to ditch subscription fee, plans to take fight further to SMS, phone calls

Whatsapp, Facebook, SMS, OTT, messaging

WhatsApp will no longer charge customers a subscription fee, but will take the fight further to traditional texts and phone calls.

The OTT messaging app, which has “nearly a billion” customers, admitted its business model of charging after a year’s free use had not worked well.

Fees will be removed over the next few weeks.

It is not clear precisely how Facebook intends to monetise the service it acquired in 2014.

It said it did not plan to introduce third-party ads.

However, it revealed it would begin to test tools that allow customers to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations.

It cited communicating with a bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight, as examples.

It said such tasks were commonly performed by SMS or phone call today.

Details were scare, but WhatsApp intimated that it wanted customers to be in control by choosing which companies they want to hear from.

[Read more: Don’t sleep with the OTT enemy, yet]

A blog post read: “For many years, we've asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year.

“As we've grown, we've found that this approach hasn't worked well.

“Many WhatsApp users don't have a debit or credit card number and they worried they'd lose access to their friends and family after their first year.

“So over the next several weeks, we'll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service.”

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