WhatsApp to offer sachet-sized health cover

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December 17, 2020 7:00 AM

The pilots on financial services and other social impact programmes are one of the four pillars of WhatsApp’s strategy in India. The other three are in the areas of digitisation of small businesses, interaction of consumers with businesses and digital payments. India is WhatsApp’s largest market in terms of the size of its user base.

whatsappThe plea had sought a direction to the Centre to prohibit WhatsApp, Facebook and Facebook India from sharing the details and data of subscribers and users.

Facebook-owned Whatsapp is working to enable the sale of “sachet-sized” health insurance products through its platform by the end of this year. The messaging giant is also running pilots in the areas of micro-pension, edtech and agritech, said Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp India, speaking at Facebook’s Fuel for India event.

The company has already gone live with payments services in partnership with four banks – State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank – after it received approval to do so for 20 million of its 400 million-strong user base in India. To offer the pension and insurance services, WhatsApp will be partnering with pinBox Solutions, HDFC Pension Management Company and SBI General Insurance.

“WhatsApp has proactively been working on several pilots to help ensure that every adult has access to the most basic and critical financial livelihood services through their mobile device. By the end of this year, we expect that people will be able to buy affordable sachet-sized health insurance through WhatsApp,” Bose said, adding the company is also working on pension services for the informal sector in India.

The pilots on financial services and other social impact programmes are one of the four pillars of WhatsApp’s strategy in India. The other three are in the areas of digitisation of small businesses, interaction of consumers with businesses and digital payments. India is WhatsApp’s largest market in terms of the size of its user base.

“Our primary focus will always be to provide the most simple, reliable, private and secure experience for people to connect with each other. However, in India, we are also building on four other pillars,” Bose said. One of these is to further digitise and scale the small-business ecosystem of India. In addition to its 400 million users, WhatsApp has about 15 million users on its WhatsApp for Business app, a specialised version of WhatsApp designed specifically for the kirana shop owner. Last year, the company released catalogues for shop owners to showcase their products to their customers and earlier this month, it added more new features to the business app.

Another area of focus, Bose said, is to make it easier for consumers to connect with and buy from their favourite businesses, both large and small, over WhatsApp’s platform. Financial institutions and banks, education companies, merchants of all sizes and the government have used the firm’s business application programming interface (API) as a way to deliver interactive experiences for anyone on WhatsApp to engage with them. “We will continue to invest in the business API, offering features and flexibility for the ecosystem in India to build highly customised customer experiences,” Bose said. The company wants to continue to push digital payments across all segments, especially for the underserved users in India. WhatsApp saw 0.31 million unified payments interface (UPI) transactions worth Rs 13.87 crore in November, according to data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

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