Today, WhatsApp has announced a pretty major shift in its business model. The popular chat client is going completely free. Facebook-owned WhatsApp used to run on a trial model: users could use the app for free for a year. Subsequent years would cost $0.99 cents each. The paid model notably made WhatsApp stand out from the crowd, as almost every other social networking is free to use from the customer perspective. Although WhatsApp will stop charging customers from today, it will take a few weeks for the payment UI in apps to go away as app updates roll out to the store.
WhatsApp says although a 0.99 cent charge is not onerous, it prevented growth as a lot of customers do not have access to credit cards. This is its major motivation for taking out the annual revenue model. Naturally, users of WhatsApp will wonder how the application plans to monetize going forward ….