WhatsApp to become free - brand communications to open up

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 19 January 2016

The Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp, will now become free and ito make up for the lost revenue, the app is set to test business accounts on the platform.

The move was announced by WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum who was speaking at the DLD conference in Germany overnight, as well as via a corresponding blog post published by the business.

Koum says the app is going to get rid of its $1 subscription fee to ensure users without a credit or debit card number can continue to use the service.

In addition, the blog post outlined that just because the service is getting rid of the subscription fee, it doesn’t mean it's going to introduce third party ads. The post does however go on to explain the app plans to open up communications between consumers and brands.

“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.

"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.”

Although speaking at DLD, Koum clarified the business hadn't started the test yet, rather they want to put people's minds at ease about advertising on the platform.

“We haven’t written a single line of code, [but we want to] make sure people understand this is not about ads in the product,” he says.

Facebook acquired the messaging app in early 2014 for $19 billion, with the social media giant, at the time, vowing to keep the app independent of Facebook as well as keeping it ad free.

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