WhatsApp is now free and promises to keep the ad-free user experience

Whatsapp, the messaging company Facebook bought a couple years ago for $19 billion said monday it’ll no longer charge a $1 annual subscription fee. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum announced Monday that the company is dropping the service’s annual subscription fee in an effort to remove the barriers some users faced in using the service.

The company used to give users a free year of service, and then charge $1 annually. Its original reason for charging users was to keep the user experience ad-free. Now, WhatsApp says that it’s sticking with an ad-free model even though it’s no longer charging users for the privilege. If you have already paid the annual subscription fee for the year then there won’t be a refund, but subscription fees will cease immediately.

The messaging app-based company is now testing a notification process that would let airlines, restaurants and credit card companies directly interact with consumers on their smartphone’s notification layer.

 

Here’s what WhatsaApp is saying about that, according to a company blog post:

Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations 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. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.


 

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