Kotak Mahindra Bank and Saraswat Co-operative Bank have announced that they have begun providing various banking services on messaging platform WhatsApp.
Kotak Mahindra Bank, in a statement, said that it has “introduced WhatsApp Banking to help you [customers] receive updates or avail services via the WhatsApp messaging platform”. Through WhatsApp banking, users’ queries related to bank account, debit, and credit cards will be addressed through WhatsApp.
Saraswat Co-operative Bank also released a statement that said that users will be “able to receive bank notifications on WhatsApp from bank’s verified mobile number”.
Through the “Banking on WhatsApp” service, Saraswat Bank’s customers can receive notifications instead of text messages with end-to-end encryption. This facility will also allow users to check balance, mini-statements, etc.
Users can choose to stop receiving WhatsApp notifications by unsubscribing from the service.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is looking to steadily increase its presence in India. The messaging platform is eyeing a large share in India’s digital payment space.
WhatsApp also released “WhatsApp Business” service, which uses software interaction in response to user initiation to send notifications such as text messages, boarding passes, receipts, tickets, and account statements among others to users.
What is WhatsApp banking?
WhatsApp plans to evolve from a simple messaging platform to one that can be used for basic banking services.
The Absa Group, a re-brand from Barclays Africa Group, was the first in the world to introduce WhatsApp banking. Depending on the banks, WhatsApp banking allows users to check their account balance, the amount of last transactions made, and bank statements. Some banks provide additional services such as registering your e-mail ID, downloading respective credit card apps, and providing other information.
Which banks offer the service?
Apart from Kotak Mahindra Bank and Saraswat Bank, Induslnd Bank began offering WhatsApp banking services in April 2018. Through the messaging app, customers can check their balance, obtain a mini-statement, and check their reward points. Users can also update their Aadhaar card through the app.
Induslnd said it was rolling out the initiative as a pilot phase that would allow the bank to communicate important transaction alerts to the customers on WhatsApp.
“The messaging on WhatsApp is being rolled out to customers in phases; however, customers can save the official WhatsApp number of the bank and initiate conversation,” IndusInd said in a statement.
WhatsApp eyeing Digital India
WhatsApp, in February 2018, had received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). With this, the Facebook-owned messaging app entered the payments app space. Since then, WhatsApp has had plans to take on Tez, BHIM, and other Unified Payments Interface (UPI) models which allow users to make digital payments.
With more than 1.5 billion active users on its platform, WhatsApp can become a formidable threat to other payment apps. With such initiatives, WhatsApp is also contributing to India’s objective of becoming a more digital society.
In March 2018, WhatsApp teamed up with Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank, to further advance its foray into the “Digital India” initiative. The WhatsApp-Axis Bank partnership meant that customers could process payments over the messaging app.
Furthermore, WhatsApp has been eyeing business services and person-to-person payments as potential ways to generate revenue from an ostensibly free service. Experts say that WhatsApp has made good use of the opportunities created by India’s demonetisation scheme and the government’s broader campaign to end the use of cash.
“WhatsApp have a huge user base in India. Since so many Indians use WhatsApp all the time, adding a payment function makes lot of sense,” angel investor Aniruddha Malpani said according to a Forbes report.
“Also, it’s a very sticky product, so using India as a test market is a wise decision. After all, they want to get embedded in India before WeChat gets here.”
Despite growing by 55 per cent in volume and 24.2 per cent in value in FY2016/17, digital payments arestill considered to be at a nascent stage in India.
Investment banking firm Credit Suisse believes that payment integration into popular apps, such as WhatsApp, will drive the digital payment market in India to $1 trillion over the next five years.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.