WhatsApp is a popular messaging platform that’s free to download and use. However, the app hasn’t always been free to download, and monetization strategies could soon make a comeback on the app in the form of a subscription model. A new report from WABetaInfo suggests a new WhatsApp Premium subscription is being tested for WhatsApp Business.
To recall, WhatsApp wasn’t free to download for iPhone users. They had to cough up a one-time $1 fee to download the instant messaging app until 2013 when WhatsApp pivoted to a system where it billed users a subscription after a year of free use. Since 2016, the app has been free to download and use for individuals and businesses.
After gathering information from the Android, iPhone, and desktop beta builds of the messaging service, WABetaInfo believes Meta (the company that now owns WhatsApp) is planning to offer some features to WhatsApp Business users if they pay for it on a recurring basis. Paywalled features could include custom vanity links for Business accounts. While this is the only feature discovered yet, more could be in the pipeline before the subscription is offered to businesses around the world.
The screenshots reveal that vanity links will follow the format “wa.me/<business-name>” adding a personal touch to their social media pages. The custom links could also make the businesses easier to reach and remember. When customers click on the link, they will be redirected to a new WhatsApp chat window with the corresponding Business account. The report says that businesses will be able to customize their link once every 90 days.
Previous mentions of the Premium subscription plan, such as those spotted in April suggest the subscription will allow businesses to link as many as 10 devices to the same account. Moreover, even the plan’s name “WhatsApp Premium” isn’t a certainty, although it is mentioned everywhere in the screenshots. So, additional paywalled features and the name of the subscription will be revealed only after WhatsApp makes them official. That said, Whatsapp Business as a whole isn’t being paywalled, at least for now.