WhatsApp will soon be free: yearly payment being removed

by: Kris CarlonJanuary 18, 2016

WhatsApp subscription page

For a service that supposedly charges you after your first year of service, I can’t say I know anyone that has ever actually paid for a WhatsApp subscription. From here on out though, no one will even be asked to: WhatsApp founder Jan Koum has announced that the yearly WhatsApp subscription fee is being removed “over the next several weeks”.

We just don’t want people to think at some point their communication to the world will be cut off.

The move comes following an admission that the system doesn’t work so well and that asking users to pay a subscription fee with a debit or credit card potentially puts off those without ready access to one. As Koum put it at the DLD Conference in Munich today: “We just don’t want people to think at some point their communication to the world will be cut off.”

Does this mean that everybody deepest fear will come to pass: that ads will be introduced to WhatsApp to help pay the overheads? No. According to Koum, WhatsApp will continue to be free. Instead, the company will be looking at introducing different ways for WhatsApp users to communicate with businesses – and vice versa – just as Facebook’s Messenger does.

best messenger apps for android Shutterstock

There doesn’t seem to be any huge rush to make this happen though, with Koum noting “we haven’t written a single line of code yet”. The two-way communication will allow you to more easily contact businesses you’re interested in via WhatsApp and also to allow businesses to send messages to you about important information like flight delays or suspect bank transactions.

If this is where it stops the service could be very useful, kind of like an in-app Google Now. But limiting the amount of “communication” businesses can do with users – and the form of that communication – is going to be critical to its acceptance. Nobody wants to receive friendly “alerts” to sales or special offers in WhatsApp, so the company will have to tread a fine line. WhatsApp is adamant the service will remain free of third-party ads and spam.


Given that this model will be used to replace the yearly subscription fee there’s no chance you can opt out from receiving at least some business communication. From what Koum has said, the withdrawal of the subscription fee is already happening and it looks like there’s no option to say “I’d actually prefer to pay a dollar a year instead”. There will also be no refunds of yearly subscriptions already paid.

What do you think of this new system? Are you happy with it or a little bit suspect?

  • Rooney-

    Lol.. Im using it from past 6 years and havent paid a penny! :P

  • 29

    We all know “important information” means ads. Can’t really trust Mr. Zuckerberg.

  • Budz

    already paid for 5 years about 3 years ago, now this… what a life

  • TyH

    Already free in developing countries

  • Sumitro Bhaumik

    Noooooo! Give me back my 3$!

  • nenslo

    Meh… This is why I prefer Telegram.


      In Italy lot of people use telegram, because telegram is better!

  • hamid

    I am using free from 3 years.

  • flye

    I paid once, but realised they will extend automatically even you don’t pay

  • MC Wong

    Was waiting to switch to Telegram once I’m forced to pay.

  • Marius Oprisan

    Never paid cause they always extended before expiring, but I’d pay instead of being bombarded with messages from different companies. Hope their approach won’t be too intrusive.

  • Ana

    I would also like to have a one time fee as an option to opt out from receiving messages from companies.

  • Armaan Modi

    It is free in India anyways…makes sense as EVERYONE here uses it!

  • Steven 2610

    for that they problably keep our account and chats forever. indeed dont trust Zuckerberg

  • tasneem choudhury

    I had issues when when I was asked to pay, this I paid too much (subscription end in 2020). Whatsapp is the latest vehicle for spam, the customer service is snail pace.

    I have whatsapp because other people insist on it. I’d contently delete it if I could stop others from using it.

    • Andrew H

      Telegram is the future!

  • Matti M

    So, I paid for membership for many years. Wtf for me? eh? what is my situation, money is gone for nothing or what?

    • Filly Jnr

      Please you must’ve paid less than 2 coffees worth of money and used the service for years… how ungrateful

  • It was like donations. It already extends your membership even if you don’t pay.