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WhatsApp to create an Indian template for digital services to replicate globally

Debangana Ghosh Mumbai | Updated on September 29, 2021

Launched pilots around scaling digital banking, providing access to basic financial services and MSME digitisation

WhatsApp in India is creating an “Indian template”, solving its unique challenges that will be taken to the rest of the world.

WhatsApp has already started pilots around scaling digital banking, providing access to basic financial services and MSME digitisation. WhatsApp has also been an active facilitator during the pandemic, be it by partnering with MyGov or just by letting volunteer groups figure their way out to help.

Speaking at The Global FinTech Fest, 2021 (GFF 2021), Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp said, “Early in Covid-19, MyGov started a chatbot on WhatsApp to deliver information to citizens on vaccine efficacy and safety and Covid guidelines. Later, this was extended to let citizens check availability, book vaccination slots and download certificates over WhatsApp. This helpline has been accessed by 20 million users. Till date 6.6 million certificates have been downloaded and 1.5 million vaccines have been booked over WhatsApp.”

It also enabled CovidAsha, a chatbot built by a group of volunteers from Bengaluru. During the second wave, they addressed over 2,000 queries regarding supply of medicines, beds and ambulances. It is now live in seven languages and has a team of 500 volunteers.

While WhatsApp has been actively partnering with some of the top banks including SBI and HDFC Bank, it has now onboarded small finance banks like AU Small Finance Bank and Equitas Small Finance Bank. This is a specific segment created by RBI to ensure more inclusivity of underserved customers, such as small businesses and farmers.

Digital kiranas

The messaging platform is also working with kiranas and customer-facing small businesses to enable digitisation. “This is one of the emerging segments we are excited about, to let MSMEs have a presence in their customers’ phones which they weren’t able to do. Even smallest businesses digitise experiences for their customers. Our collective goal is not to scale payments, but to scale solutions that would enable features like payments. This revolution is unique to the Indian template. The digital kiranas will leverage this platform to create awareness and manage distribution and payments,” Bose said.

The only other aspect left for kiranas is logistics, which will be managed Beckn Foundation, he added.

To make the digital ecosystem of doing business more inclusive, companies like Beckn Foundation, which counts Infosys Co-Founder Nandan Nilekani and the Chief Architect of UIDAI Pramod Varma as its Co-Founders – are creating UPI-like open-source back-end for mobility and e-commerce for open network channels for online business.

“At present, for digital commerce platforms to work, both the buyers and sellers need to be on the same platform. We are looking at creating an open-source solution wherein the buyers or the users could use any platform of their choice, even WhatsApp to buy from that seller. The seller can be anyone from a cab service player to a logistics service provider, we are looking at ways to make it possible to be naturally discoverable. There has to be a way to be an open network marketplace than a platform restricted market place,” Sujith Nair, Co-Founder and CEO, Beckn Foundation, who is working on “decentralising commerce” said at the event.

Published on September 28, 2021

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