If you have a smartphone, communicate with someone who is abroad or are abroad yourself, or prefer to message people using Wifi apps instead of the messaging option built into your phone, chances are you're familiar with WhatsApp. Previously, the app was free for the first year and 99 cents for each year afterwards — but today, I have excellent news: WhatsApp is free forever now! Sure, 99 cents may not be a heck of a lot of savings, but just think of the strange and unusual bonus item you can now take home the next time you go to the dollar store.
In case you don't know much about the app, WhatsApp uses the same Internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing. WhatsApp also uses something called end-to-end encryption, meaning messages sent over it are ultra private and, in theory, can't be viewed be third parties or even WhatsApp itself. In addition to these pretty great features, WhatsApp also doesn't sell ads, which is why they were previously charging 99 cents per year — it kept the lights on, so to speak.
So why did that all change? In a recent blog post, the company explains why it chose to do what it did. Here's the gist of it, along with what they plan to do next.
Why The Big Change?
Simple: Many WhatsApp users don't have debit or credit cards. The blog post cites users all over the world from Spain to Indonesia to Brazil using WhatsApp, noting that limiting its availability to only people who have a debit or credit card to pay for it takes away from the point of the app in the first place — that is, to help users all over the world keep in touch, no matter where they are or who they're talking to.
Will Third-Party Ads Fund The App Now Instead?
Don't worry — the answer to that is a big old "NO."
So How Will They Make Any Money?
WhatsApp is introducing a new plan that allows you to get in touch with businesses. In their blog post, the company gives the example of reaching out to your bank if you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card. Funding will likely come through these businesses paying to use WhatsApp to connect with customers, keeping the platform free for users.
The app is phasing out the subscription service in the upcoming weeks, but if you're already recently paid the 99 cents to renew, unfortunately you won't get a refund. But hey, you won't have to pay it ever again, so at least there's that!
Images: Giphy (3)