WhatsApp Piloting Health Insurance and Micro-Pension Offerings

WhatsApp is planning to start rolling out health insurance and micro-pension offerings in India. India Head Abhijit Bose revealed WhatsApp’s roadmap towards bringing “critical financial and livelihood services” to mobile users in the country at the Facebook Fuel for India event. The Facebook-owned company is working with SBI General to launch health insurance products, while HDFC Pension and Singapore-based firm PinBox Solutions are on board for offering micro-pension products. The new developments come alongside WhatsApp’s digital payments venture – WhatsApp Pay.

The cross-platform messaging app said in a statement, “WhatsApp has been working in collaboration with credible financial institutions and partners on pilots of micro-pension, micro-insurance and others, to ensure that every citizen has access to the critical financial services through their mobile devices. By the end of this year, buying affordable health insurance coverage from SBI General leveraging WhatsApp, will be a reality.” The statement was made during Facebook India’s inaugural flagship event Fuel for India which highlights the its commitment to contribute to India’s growth story.

By the end of the year, WhatsApp is set to start offering affordable health insurance coverage from SBI General, Bose said during his presentation at the virtual event. The executive also announced WhatsApp’s partnership with HDFC Pension and PinBox Solutions to start piloting micro-pension products through the messaging app.

“These pilots, along with others in edtech and agritech to name a few, offer tremendous promise and would help support the government of India’s priorities for a more digitised economy, especially for rural and underserved segments,” said Bose.

WhatsApp is aiming to become a competitive platform for insurance companies and firms offering micro-pension products and expand its footprint in the Indian financial sector with the new move. Bose also underlined that the messaging app will make it easier to bring health insurance and micro-pensions to Indian users — regardless of their location and income.

“We have designed specific products that will take care of healthcare needs in an affordable and hassle-free manner, and will be available through WhatsApp,” said Amar Joshi, Chief Business Officer, SBI General.

The massive user base of over 400 million people in the country is making WhatsApp attractive for insurance and pension providers in the country.

Sumit Shukla, CEO of HDFC Pension Management, said that WhatsApp was enabling digital and financial inclusion at an accelerated rate. “WhatsApp as a platform is multilingual, secure and is revolutionising the way financial services are accessed and facilitated in our country,” he said.

Alongside its piloting insurance and micro-pension services, WhatsApp is getting deeper into the Indian digital economy with its payments feature and the WhatsApp Business API. The ongoing developments are aimed to take on the likes of Google Pay, Alibaba-backed Paytm, and Flipkart-owned PhonePe.

Just after WhatsApp made its plans public for offering insurance products, PhonePe claimed that it processed over 11 million insurance premiums through its platform in the past one year. The digital payments platform offers the option to pay insurance premiums for over 30 insurers. It said that 80 percent of the total premiums during the year came from users in the tier-2 and tier-3 cities. WhatsApp’s Payments, which went live in November last year after getting regulatory approvals, currently has up to 20 million users.

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