Banking @WhatsApp a win-win partnership

BankingMumbai: In favour of digital alternatives, Indian lenders rewire their branch banking services during the lockdown, WhatsApp is sensing an opportunity in its biggest market to capture a new user segment — retail banking.

The Facebook-owned social media giant has ramped up existing partnerships with some of the biggest names in Indian banking — HDFC BankNSE -2.01 %, ICICI BankNSE -2.95 %, Kotak Mahindra BankNSE -3.77 %, Axis BankNSE -3.08 % and RBL Bank.

The WhatsApp’s Application Programming Interface (API) integrations have allowed these lenders to provide basic services such as balance enquiry, routine updates, moratorium facility, credit card statements and in some cases even savings account opening options to customers.

The service is taking off with banks seeing engagements in millions as a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic has caused most branches to remain accessible only for select services.

For example, ICICI Bank has seen “close to a million users” apply for ‘WhatsApp Banking’ services, whereas Kotak Mahindra Bank said that it was handling 1.5 million monthly messages on the platform.

“Enthused by encouraging response, we have added several new features like instant savings account opening facility, access to pdf for our partnered newspapers, locating nearby essential stores and opting for loan moratorium to this service,” said Bijith Bhaskar, head-digital channels and partnership, ICICI Bank.

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