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WhatsApp ditches $1 annual subscription fee, looks for other source of revenue

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January 19
7:55 PM 2016

Popular messaging app WhatsApp will remove its $1 annual subscription fee. This is according to its chief executive Jan Kuom during the annual Digital Life Design conference held in Munich Monday. The company will look for other means of income, such as experimenting on making airlines, credit card companies, and restaurants pay the service to contact consumers.

NBC News reported that the messaging app company will start exploring how to simplify the processes during interactions between businesses and consumers. Kuom said, "When we think about our philosophy of building something utilitarian, we kinda want to experiment with doing the same thing with businesses."

Kuom said requiring users to pay even small amounts is difficult in many countries, especially those places where online payments are still complicated.

"Today, we are announcing that WhatsApp is going to be free to users. We aren't going to charge a dollar a year anymore," said Kuom at the DLD event in Munich.

The seven-year-old company was acquired by giant social media platform Facebook in 2014 for a price of $19.2 billion, according to a report by Time. WhatsApp now has 1 billion users, and recently released a new browser-based desktop chat feature.

Besides dropping the subscription fee, WhatsApp will also start to offer complete encryption on its messaging service to ensure its users' privacy. Reuters wrote that this move could only raise more criticisms from certain government authorities. United States and British authorities argue that encryption of messaging from WhatsApp, iMessage, and other messaging apps hinders them from performing their ability to monitor criminal and militant plots. These authorities are planning to pass new laws that would prohibit these encryptions among messaging services.

WhatsApp has been aggressively working on developing end-to-end encrypted communication for its services, which includes free text, images, and video messaging. The company has successfully released full encryption feature for its Android phone users. Kuom even hinted that WhatsApp will soon become the world's largest encryption messaging service provider.

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