With over four hundred million active users in India, the country is Whatsapp’s largest market. Abhijit Bose, the head of WhatsApp in India, unveiled plans for furthering digital inclusion in the keynote session for Whatsapp at Facebook’s flagship Fuel for India event.
Bose reiterates that the main objective of the platform will always be to provide simple, reliable, private and secure experiences for users. The platform aims to further digitise and scale small businesses in India with its Whatsapp for Business app designed specifically for kirana-shop owners, make it easier for consumers to connect with businesses through its business API, grow digital payments with Whatsapp Pay which uses UPI, and finally to drive social impact through programmes.
The company will enable users to buy affordable sachet-sized health insurance by the end of the year, and create savings plans over Whatsapp. Bose then introduced one of the programmes in the area of micro-pension with Gautam Bhardwaj of pinBox Solutions, which is empowering digital micro-pension ecosystems in India for the self-employed and informal sector. Bhardwaj shares that without pension benefits, informal sector workers face the risk of extreme poverty for over 20 years once they retire. Thus, the programme aims to encourage the current economically active informal sector workers to start saving. He says that Whatsapp can be a bridge for such programmes to connect with the informal sector. Sumit Shukla, chief executive officer, HDFC Pension Management Company, said, “Whatsapp is revolutionising the way financial services are accessed and facilitated in our country.”
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Pavithra YS, founder and managing director of Vindhya e-Infomedia, talked about a need for creating a platform for people with disabilities. The BPO company employs people with disabilities, people from the transgender community, and rural backgrounds. This was followed by testimonials by users who have availed pension services through Whatsapp. Bose further revealed that they are also collaborating with SBI General Insurance for providing health insurance on the messaging platform. The keynote also introduced Whatsapp Pay, which is now live across India.