WhatsApp Takes Aggressive Steps into Retail Banking Space

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The widespread of COVID-19 affects various sectors all over the world. In the case of the banking sector, the customers are more depends upon net banking facilities. People use certain mobile banking applications for making transactions within a pay limit. WhatsApp is on the way to become India’s digital banking channel. Kotak Mahindra is one of the first banks in India that launch banking services through WhatsApp. Certain banks in India are already in leveraging the app in helping digitally-inactive customers to adopt WhatsApp as their prior digital banking channel in the times of social distancing.

Now WhatsApp becomes a convenient and seamless channel for the customers to interact with banks, they are providing a range of banking services through the platform. They are sensing the biggest opportunity in the market to capture the new user segment as retail banking. They have some existing partnerships with some of the biggest names in Indian banking like Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC Bank), Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank, Ratnakar Bank Limited (RBL) Bank. The use of Application Programming Interface (API) integrations allowed these lenders to provide basic services like balance enquiry, routine updates, moratorium facility, credit card statements, and even the savings account opening options are also available to the customers. By taking off those services with banks seeing the engagement of millions as a part of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic. Mr. Bijith Bhaskar the head of digital channels and partnership ICICI Bank said that “Enthused by encouraging responses, they have added several new features like instant savings account opening the facility, access to the pdf of their partnered newspaper, opting loans for the moratorium, locating the nearby essential stores, etc.

The Kotak Mahindra bank was handling 1.5 million monthly messages through the WhatsApp platform. Their channel is an upgrade on the traditional SMS and IVR used by the bank at the earlier. Many customers migrated to WhatsApp as their first digital channel due to the simplicity and familiarity of the platform. The service is free of cost for most of the customers because the partnership model which exists between banks and WhatsApp is a mix of subscription and per-transaction model. The quickly scaling services like insurance, pension, banking, credit to consumers, and small businesses have underscored due to the impact of COVID-19. This messaging platform has around 2 billion users worldwide and in India, more than 400 million users have availed the services of 10 developer platforms to backend the API integrations. By using this platform the customers will get important alerts such as EMI schedules and Payment reminders and also they can send the digital welcome kit on opening an account to a customer on WhatsApp. The current lockdown has magnified the critical need for businesses to have a digital presence.

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