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WhatsApp announces huge new changes

by Jacob Kleinman | January 18, 2016January 18, 2016 7:00 am PST


If you’re a regular WhatsApp user we’ve got some good news. The Facebook-owned messaging app is ditching its annual subscription fee, and plans to rollout a few new features in the coming weeks and months.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced the news on Monday at a conference in Germany. The company previously charged some people $1 per year after the first year of service, but it plans to cut that fee within the next few weeks. The main reason is that many users simply didn’t have access to a credit or debit card, making it impossible to pay even if they wanted to.

You won’t see third-party ads popping up as a result either. Instead, WhatsApp plans to to introduce a service for businesses to chat directly with their customers. That could mean your bank might message you when it detects suspicious activity, or an airline might let you know your flight has been delayed.

“We want to build things that are utilitarian,” Koum said. “That allows a company like American Airlines or Bank of America to communicate efficiently through a messaging app like WhatsApp.”

This new strategy seems to come directly from WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook. The social network’s Messenger app has already announced plans to offer similar business-to-customer messaging services.

Koum also noted that the company is very close to encrypting all its messages. The entire process should finally be completed within the next few months.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...