WhatsApp Partners with Rural Banks: WhatsApp unveiled a pilot initiative with HDFC Pensions and its technology partner pinBox in July of last year to allow users to sign up for micro pensions.
Today, WhatsApp is announcing that they will be working with rural and cooperative banks in India in order to accelerate the adoption and usage of digital banking for their underserved customer base.
“Last year, we had highlighted mobile banking services from leading banks which had reached meaningful numbers; however for us, banking via WhatsApp could only be achieved,” says Abhijit Bose on September 28th.
“WhatsApp has been working with these institutions to help them understand how they can create a sustainable business model around offering services within WhatsApp, and together we hope to reach hundreds of millions of people,” said Bose at the event.
According to Bose, WhatsApp launched its UPI payment service in November of last year, nearly two years after its initial experiment, after getting approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
However, the service is still restricted to 20 million users and currently has less than a 0% volume share in the market.
“The challenge for us is to make sure that people can use WhatsApp in a way that’s safe, and not just this one-time thing – but something they will want to come back to,” said Bose. “We believe we are working towards realizing these goals.”
WhatsApp has partnered with the State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank to deliver person-to-person payments for customers of these banks.
WhatsApp is also partnering with Kotak Mahindra bank in order to bring small business loans into its app starting today.
WhatsApp Partners with Rural Banks, The pilot project will begin with a limited number of users who are currently eligible for an SBI loan – it will be rolled out in phases before being made available to all WhatsApp’s 200 million monthly active user base in India shortly after the pilot ends.
“We have been working on this product over the last year,” says Bose at the event.”With digital financial services, there are so many opportunities that we can explore together – because our products actually benefit from each other.”
“We are going to start with a pilot, which will be open only for customers of State Bank of India. We want to make sure that our implementation is working for them before it can be scaled up.”
It’s a limited pilot, but eventually, WhatsApp would like to expand this feature to its entire user base in India. They’ll soon bring more partners on board as well.