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.
Those who have been using WhatsApp already know that the service has been free for the first year, and that thereafter there was a subscription fee of $0.99 per year. The transition to the free service will happen during the next few weeks, and in case your credit card gets charged for this year’s subscription, you may want to know that you won’t be able to get your money back.
Anyways, this move brings up the monetization question: How does Facebook plan to monetize this service? As it turns out, WhatsApp will explore various ways businesses can use the service to connect with individuals.
As WhatsApp founder Jan Koum said on Monday speaking at the DLD conference in Munich, they had already noticed that businesses have been finding ways to reach customers using the service.
To understand the business model, Facebook wants to follow with WhatsApp. Re/code points to Zuckerberg’s speech on Facebook’s second-quarter earnings call, where the CEO said it first wants to build an organic interaction between businesses and individuals which “will end up being a massive multiplier on the value of the monetization down the road when we work on that and really focus on that in a bigger way.”