What’s happening Whatsapp?
Last week, Whatsapp founder Jan Koum announced that the app would be ditching its 99p annual subscription fee. The fee, which was thought to be introduced to recover some of the investment that Facebook made when purchasing the app for an incredible $19 billion in 2014 in has been shunned in an attempt to grow its the app’s user base, which was stunted due to not every user having access to a debit or credit card to pay the app’s subscription fee. Having introduced features since Facebook’s takeover such as free phonecalls and blue tick “read receipts”, it is speculated that Whatsapp will transform its business model into a platform on which businesses can communicate with their customers. Following the example of WeChat, which is China’s most popular social media platform, Whatsapp will become both a commercial and personal communication hub on which users can take care of every day tasks such as paying bills and making bookings alongside managing their social interaction. Whatsapp may well take on the virtual model of a business agenda, to store business cards, credit cards and personal contacts and manage social and business arrangements in one place.
Koum explained in an interview with Wired: “We’ve done really well in the consumer space, but there is whole other aspect of communication as you go through your day: You want to communicate with businesses.” By removing the red tape of the 99p fee, Whatsapp is opening the app’s doors to billions more users in emerging markets and developing countries. The app, which currently boasts about 1billion users is sure to become even more valuable to businesses who strive to reach customers as the platform itself stretches its reach.