WhatsApp-API helping deliver digital, mobile-first solutions across segments: Abhijit Bose
Speaking at the GFF 2021, Abhijit Bose said WhatsApp - in convergence with telecom infrastructure and India Stack - is building a successful roadmap ahead for enabling and digitising businesses in the country on WhatsApp-API.
WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose on Tuesday said its platform - WhatsApp-API - is helping deliver digital and mobile-first solutions across segments like financial solutions, government services and retail.
Speaking at the Global FinTech Festival (GFF) 2021, the top executive said WhatsApp - in convergence with telecom infrastructure and India Stack - is building a successful roadmap ahead for enabling and digitising businesses in the country on WhatsApp-API.
"I'm excited that services on the platform are growing significantly. Hundreds of businesses and other services are now launching every month, and adoption by our users is accelerating. Whether you're the largest institution or a single entrepreneur, customised solution to solving unique challenges in any sector, can now be rapidly configured and deployed," he added.
He cited examples from government agencies and financial institutions, wherein WhatsApp had been a platform to deliver essential services to citizens.
Bose said, early in the pandemic, MyGov had launched a chatbot on WhatsApp to deliver information for citizens on vaccine efficacy, safety and COVID care guidelines.
When the government recently opened up the API for CoWIN, MyGov extended the service on WhatsApp to allow people to check availability of slots at vaccination centres near them, make vaccination appointments, and also download their vaccination certificate, he added.
"Now this helpline has been accessed by more than 20 million unique users. Till date 6.6 million vaccine certificates have been downloaded and 1.5 million vaccinations have been booked on WhatsApp," he noted.
Bose said a group of volunteers from Bengaluru's tech community who had never met each other, came together to create a service called 'CovidAsha' to help solve the acute oxygen supply situation that emerged during the second wave of the pandemic.
CovidAsha connected with suppliers and vendors, 24/7, and functioned as a two-way marketplace providing relevant, verified and real time information to COVID care seekers and also allowed suppliers to provide updates on stock availability.
During the peak of the second wave, they serviced over 2,000 requests per day for oxygen supplies, medicines and ambulances.
They are live in seven regional languages on the WhatsApp-API platform and have over 500 volunteers handling data collection, engineering, product and communications.
Bose said the Facebook-owned company has also focused on expanding financial inclusion.
"While banking services on major banks on WhatsApp has continued to scale up, the first appointment from small finance banks such as AU Small Finance Bank, which is India's largest small finance bank and Equitas Small Finance Bank have gone live...we're going to be working with them to see how we amplify awareness and accelerate adoption and usage of digital banking for their base," he said.
Bose added that WhatsApp's pilot "to enable people to sign up for micro pensions from HDFC Pensions and their partner, pinBox" has gone live.
"One of the emerging sectors that we're excited about is the growth on the WhatsApp platform of small and medium businesses in retail and F&B who would never have the ability to have an app on the customer's phone.
"But now, even the smallest businesses can digitise their operations and deliver an experience to their customers that is seamless and at par with the best digital experiences in the world," he stated.
The 'digital kirana' of the near future will leverage the digital platforms and services of India of today, as they have the options for awareness, distribution and rich customer experiences tailored for their unique sectors, and also the facility of digital payments, Bose said.
"The final leg that had not been solved until now was logistics, but with solutions like WhatsApp-API platforms, that will be addressed as well and double up as quick solutions that help small businesses get back online during difficult periods like the pandemic," he added.
Reiterating WhatsApp's goal to scale solutions that will be enabled through payments and fintech, Bose said there is no 'fintech' if it's not enabling a transaction of some type.
"This revolution is uniquely an Indian template because a lot of the common friction points that had blocked small businesses from achieving scale are being solved and powered by our India Stack and the ecosystem building on top of it,” he added.
Beckn Foundation CEO and co-founder Sujit Nair said in the last decade, India has shown how an open digital infrastructure can unleash opportunities at scale for businesses, government, and civil society.
"Aadhaar, India Stack, UPI as the building blocks has inspired the thinking behind Beckn as a digital building block for decentralised and democratised commerce," he added.