WhatsApp Messenger is one of the most popular messaging apps with more than 1.6 billion active users around the world and one of the reasons behind its widespread use is that it allows users to send messages, video or voice chat, and share status updates with contacts for free. Now, there is a possibility that users might have to start paying to use the Facebook-owned platform.
WhatsApp plans to monetise app?
Since Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, the social media giant has always wanted to monetize the platform. The company's founder and co-founder, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, reportedly left the company in 2018 over this very reason. They had raised concerns that commercializing the messaging feature would force the app to weaken its end-to-end encryption feature.
As previously reported, Facebook tried to monetize the app with plans to introduce ads on the platform much like it has on Instagram. However, users did not waste any time in vocalizing their discontent with Facebook's decision to monetize the app and the company later decided to scrap its plans.
As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, the team that was working on the upcoming feature was disbanded and its work was subsequently removed from WhatsApp's code. However, WSJ noted that although Facebook decided not to reverse its decision to run ads on its messaging platform, the decision is only temporary and the company still plans to monetize the platform in the future.
WhatsApp to charge subscription fee?
Facebook's acquired the platform in 2014 to make the most of the messaging platform's growing popularity and generate huge revenues for the company. At the time, WhatsApp was generating close to $20 million in revenues annually by charging a $1 yearly subscription fee in select regions.
WhatsApp removed subscription fees in 2016 in a bid to make the shift towards impending monetization plans from Facebook by introducing adverts in message streams. Facebook said at the time that it wanted to focus more on WhatsApp features that allow "businesses to communicate with customers and organize those contacts."
However, with the company backing away from its decision to run ads on the platform, the only way for Facebook to monetize the messaging app is by going back to charging users a subscription fee for using the service like Netflix. Whether WhatsApp starts charging the general public subscription charges or resorts to a different business model, remains to be seen. There has been no official word from the company yet so we need to wait and see what Facebook has in store for its billions of users.