WhatsApp aims to become the go-to platform for small businesses and first-time insurance buyers and is counting on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) -based payments feature, which is now present throughout India, besides its new business-focused features.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform aims to gain market share against established payment competitors like Google and PhonePe. Although WhatsApp has more than 400 million active users and 15 million business users in India, it has lagged behind in many sectors, such as payments or microinsurance, which are also offered by other payment applications. PhonePe sold more than 500,000 insurance plans from April to August this year.
“Our goal was to make sending money to family and friends as easy and as safe as sending a message or attaching a photo. I am pleased to share with you that WhatsApp Pay is now available nationwide through our partners State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank. On the second day of the virtual event, Facebook Fuel for India, said Abhijit Bose, CEO of WhatsApp India.
"People who are new to digital payments need a simple, secure, and reliable way to join and complete the last and important stage of any transaction. WhatsApp Pay can be that bridge for many. I am really excited about the prospects of WhatsApp Pay.
WhatsApp Pay was introduced in November, but the feature wasn't available to many users at first. WhatsApp processed just over 300,000 UPI transactions, according to November data from India's National Payments Corp (NPCI). Industry insiders said the company needs to offer more incentives and rewards for shoppers to switch from other payment apps to WhatsApp Pay.
Bose said WhatsApp will start offering microinsurance products on its platform later this year. It will first offer affordable health insurance plans from SBI General Insurance Co. Limited. The company also plans to introduce micro-pension products and has partnered with HDFC Pension Management and pinBox to offer retirement plans.
Small ticket insurance coverages, also known as a bag or bite insurance, are non-comprehensive plans that focus on specific needs and have a lower premium and less coverage. Plans like these have gained a lot of traction in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, especially among first-time buyers from small towns.
"We always strive to enable, provide, create, and make insurance solutions as accessible and affordable as other essential services." Ammar Joshi, Commercial Director of SBI General Insurance, said: "We have designed specific products that will address health care needs in an affordable and hassle-free way that will be available through WhatsApp."
Improving customer experience while interacting with businesses on WhatsApp is another focus area for the business. It will continue to invest in an enterprise API, providing features and flexibility for the entire ecosystem in India to create personalized experiences for customers. "We want to make it easier for consumers to connect with and buy from their favorite businesses, both large and small, through our platform," said Bose. WhatsApp will continue to introduce new features and tools in the WhatsApp Business application, specifically designed to "help small businesses and Kirana stores" grow and expand.