Launched in 2009, American freeware WhatsApp came out as a cross platform messaging service. The software application is globally famous in the digital market. Along with letting its users exchange different media types, it also provides audio & video calling feature, and much more. And soon, you can buy insurance and pension schemes.
For 2021, WhatsApp intends to expand its ambit of services to finance, commerce, education and social welfare. As a part of it, WhatsApp is going to collaborate with licenced financial services players like SBI and HDFC to provide health insurance and micro-pension products on its messaging platform in India.
According to what Abhijeet Bose, the head of WhatsApp India, said on Facebook Fuel event 2020, some of these micro-finance products could go live within the end of this year itself.
Why is WhatsApp rolling out Insurance and Pension Schemes?
As mentioned above, WhatsApp intends to expand its ambit of services for just being a messaging and voice over IP platform. It now intends to provide services related to finance, commerce, education and social welfare. The following words said by Abhijeet Bose reflect WhatsApp’s reasoning behind rolling out Insurance and Pension Schemes-
“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”
He further added that WhatsApp has been collaborating with ecosystem payers over the course of the year. Its one aim is to facilitate every Indian with micro-pensions and health insurance schemes regardless of their location and income.
What is SBI’s stance on tying up with WhatsApp?
CEO of SBI General, PC Kandpal believes that by tying up with WhatsApp, the penetration of health insurance in India can improve which is presently less than 4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and is also below the world average of 6.31%.
In the words of PC Kandpal, SBI wants to “simplify the distribution channel and make customized, and sachet health insurance products available across India”
According to Chief Business Officer of SBI General, Amar Joshi— SBI is also said to“have designed specific products that will take care of healthcare needs in an affordable and hassle-free manner, and will be available through WhatsApp”
What does HDFC has to say about it?
SEO of HDFC Pension Management, SumitShukla has said that WhatsApp can accelerate the rate of digital and financial inclusion in India. As he said-
“WhatsApp as a platform is multilingual, secure and is revolutionising the way financial services are accessed and facilitated in our country.”
Thus, SBI and HDFC are joining hands with WhatsApp to make insurance and pension products easily available at lower costs.
When are these insurance and pension services expected to rollout on WhatsApp?
There is no confirmation about when these services are going to rollout as neither of the WhatsApp and SBI executives have shared any definitive timeline. All we know as of now is that the services are expected to be rolled out soon.
As Abhijeet Bose said in Facebook Fuel 2020 event, That has been on it from a last few months and these services may go live within the end of this year. Hence, if not by the end of 2020, we can expect WhatsApp to launch its insurance and pension products in early 2021.
On top of its decision to pilot insurance and micro-pension services,WhatsApp has also received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) last month to launch its payments services in India. With this will now be competing with payment service providers like PayTm, Google Pay, PhonePe, Amazon Pay, etc. Also, WhatsApp has made clear its intention to expand its ambit of services. Thus, it’s a reasonable assumption for coming years that will be rolling out more services.
The decision of WhatsApp to collaborate with SBI and HDFC seems quite promising. Its aims at making insurance and pension services easily available all both in terms of money and physical reach. Let’s hope that WhatsApp rolling out these financial products will revolutionize the facilitation of financial services in India.