WhatsApp is set to roll out health insurance and micro-pension products on its messaging platform in India through tie-ups with licensed financial services players.
The move comes as the Facebook-owned tech giant is set to expand its ambit of services to finance, commerce, education and social welfare in 2021.
In the first phase of launch, the instant messaging platform is set to partner with SBI General to launch a sachet-health insurance cover and HDFC Pension to make available.
National Pension Scheme (NPS) products on its popular app, Abhijit Bose, head of India for WhatsApp, said.
Bose, speaking at Facebook’s Fuel for India 2020 event on Wednesday, said that some of these micro-finance products which the company has been piloting over the last few months could go live within the end of this year.
“The ability for people to get insurance covers – life and health – can protect the financial security of households from unforeseen expenses especially during the pandemic,” said Bose.
WhatsApp will work with partners like banks and financial institutions in India to make it easier for people to access products such as insurance, microcredit and pension, its India Head Abhijit Bose said on Wednesday. The company will also support multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products, Bose said at the Global Fintech Fest.
“We hope that these projects will make it much easier for micro-pensions and health insurance to be scaled hopefully to every Indian regardless of location and income,” he said, adding that the messaging giant has been collaborating with ecosystem players over the course of the year.
He also said, the company is contextualizing on how WhatsApp stays committed to accelerating digital and financial inclusion in India by providing easy access to financial tools like micro pension and insurance at scale, along with partners.
The Facebook-owned company has been working for more than a year with banking partners to see how it can supplement their digital presence and accelerate the pace of financial access across segments and geographies in the country, Bose said. “We now want to open up with more banks…over this coming year to help simplify and expand banking services, especially to the rural and lower income segments…we also aim to expand our experiments with partners for other products that RBI highlighted as basic financial services, starting with micro pensions and insurance,” he added.
Bose said the collective aim over the next 2-3 years is to be able to help low wage workers in the unorganized informal economy to easily access three products – insurance, microcredit and pension. WhatsApp had started testing its payments service – WhatsApp Pay – in India in 2018. The UPI-based service, which allows users to utilize the messaging platform to send and receive money, competes against Softbank-backed Paytm, Flipkart’s PhonePe and Google Pay in India.
While a full-scale national rollout is yet to happen for WhatsApp Pay in India over regulatory issues, the company had launched WhatsApp Pay in Brazil last month. Bose noted that the fintech innovation happening in India is years ahead of other countries, including the US. He said over the next year and a half, WhatsApp will be supporting multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products.
Bose added that the company was now live on UPI with four banks and 20 million users. These banks, as ET reported earlier, include State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp Pay is off to a slow start as per NPCI data, having processed only 0.31 million transactions worth Rs 13 crore in its first month of operation.
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