WhatsApp planing to offer credit, insurance & pension products to lower-income individuals and those in rural areas in India and help digitize local small and medium-sized businesses as the Facebook service looks to make a digital payments push in its biggest market by users.
It is working with ICICI, Kotak Mahindra and HDFC for the past year to explore ways to bring financial services to individuals who have yet to become part of the banking population, said Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp’s head in India, at Global Fintech Fest conference, via video chat on Wednesday.
This work over the past year has already proven that banks can leverage WhatsApp’s reach; ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra have reached more than 3 million new users, said Bose, who announced that the app is now planning to work with additional partners to bring insurance, micro-pension and credit to lower-wage workers and the informal economy over the next year-and-a-half.
“Based on the results, we will co-invest and scale. Even a small conversion of the demand will translate into an infusion of significant savings into the financial system,” he said. “Over the next two years, we are committing to opening in entrepreneurial ways we never have before. We will launch many experiments.”
With a reach of over 400 million users in India — more than any other app in the country — WhatsApp is uniquely positioned to bring more people into the financial ecosystem.
The company says it has complied with all the requirements mandated by New Delhi’s central bank, signaling that it could receive the final approval for a wide rollout of WhatsApp Pay any day now..