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Viber to launch chatbot payments feature in PH

Viber, the more preferred messaging app in the Philippines, is rolling out its Chatbot Payments feature in the country even as it vowed to continue prioritizing data privacy, security and efficient app.

Djamel Agaoua, the CEO at Rakuten Viber said during a virtual press conference that this new feature is in partnership with local player telco Globe.

Djamel Agaoua, the CEO at Rakuten Viber 

The Chatbot Payments through a partnership with Google Pay and Apple Pay announced this year, marked Viber’s move towards fintech. The Chatbot Payments is a game-changing feature that enables Viber users to purchase products and services of merchants securely and accept payments directly through the app. 

Through this partnership with Globe, Filipino users can easily check out and order from small food businesses through the FoodPH bot.

“By introducing new product features, capabilities, and improvements like Chatbot Payments, we empower our users to accomplish more in so much lesser time. We did so without having to renege on our commitment to protect their right to data privacy at any point within the app, ultimately giving them the freedom not only to genuinely express themselves but also lighten their load and ease their worries at the same time,” said Agaoua.

Agaoua said they are looking at 10 percent reasonable market penetration initially of its user base for this financial service and hopefully build it up to 40 to 50 percent in the short term.

He said that while there are several players in the market, Viber sees to achieve efficiency both in terms of its technology and cost. He cited the many Filipinos overseas, who send remittance to their loved ones back in the Philippine, thus the need to provide a cost-efficient payment system. The objective is to make sending money as simple and quick as sending messages.

“I want to be arrogant to say that we have a pretty efficient way to send a message, it’s very simple and very quick. Tomorrow, it should be simple to send money as to send a message. This is our objective to be extremely efficient in terms of costs, and to be very convenient in terms of usage,” he explained adding that such recipient could be a loved one, a family or somebody dealing with or receiving a service.

Viber users have been growing nicely, he said. This year, they expect 20 percent growth. With its popularity in the Philippines, he expects to get more users for the financial services stressing the “users tend to acquire users.”

Even as the company is trying to monetize its growing audience, it does not prioritize revenues over security and privacy of its users.

One of the biggest decisions Viber made in its 10-year history was to cut all business ties with Facebook for continuously mishandling their user data for profit. The messaging app, which considers security as one of its core strengths, earlier this year pulled out all its ad spending on the social media platform and removed the Facebook Connect and GIPHY features within the app.

He noted that the declining users of Facebook in the Western world could probably be due to the manner of exploiting data of users and in the collection of data in the back of the users and using this data to set their users.

“So, if we look at the benchmark per user revenue per user that Facebook has been compared to ours there is a big gap,” he said stressing he believes that there must be a limit in terms of utilization and collection of data to make money from advertising revenue, which is the only source of revenue for Facebook.

He said that its advertising revenue is limited to 20 percent and the rest come from ecommerce.

“We do some advertising, it’s less than 20 percent of our revenue, and it would never be more than 20 percent of our revenue,” he vowed adding, “We don’t have the same targeting capabilities that Facebook sorry, and we are proud of it.”

He shared “I’ve been burned in the past, by too much usage of spam.” Thus, Viber ecommerce feature was created with the idea to create the ability for brands to communicate with users with the consent of the user.

“So, we made this choice because first of all because we thought that our users needed it,” he said.

But he also said Viber’s commitment to privacy was not decided as a result of what has been happening with Facebook. Five years ago, he said, Viber saw this issue coming in.

“We decided not to build our future on advertising only,” he said adding they have the clear objective to maintain advertising as a secondary role. Its two big revenue streams are ecommerce and fintech.

“Everything that we do at Rakuten Viber has always been for the benefit of our users. It all began with a mission to offer a means to communicate with their loved ones. Now the app has evolved into a secure platform where every call and message is protected by end-to-end encryption. Rakuten Viber will never stop innovating,” said Anna Znamenskaya, the Chief Growth Officer at Rakuten Viber.

Anna Znamenskaya, the Chief Growth Officer at Rakuten Viber 

“All these milestones and partnerships we’ve achieved so far are just the beginning of what’s in store for our users in the coming years. Our users’ satisfaction remains to be our driving force why we aspire for bolder and bigger goals.”

This year alone, Viber introduced the group video calls and bolstered its capacities when the pandemic started to accommodate the higher-than-usual number of calls and messages within the app, doubling the maximum number of participants to 20 people at once in Group Video and Audio Calls.

This is why in the first half of 2020, the app recorded an 18% increase in activations, 104 percent in Community messages sent, and 109 percent in Community views in the entire Asia Pacific region. When compared the numbers with the numbers posted in the same period last year, Viber registered a 208 percent surge in Community messages sent and 129 percent increase in Community Views.

This quick action also enabled Rakuten Viber to reach new performance milestones in the Philippines for the first half of the year alone.

During quarantine, Viber noted that there was a 2.5x increase in Community viewers and 2.7x growth in messages sent to Communities in the Philippines. There was also an increase in the following: 43 percent in daily activations, 17 percent in monthly active users, 18% in daily active users, 22 percent in outgoing calls, and 35 percent in incoming answered calls.

With such an engaged user base, it has also been important for Rakuten Viber to look out at certain product features and partnerships that may run counter to its core beliefs.

One of the biggest decisions Viber made in its 10-year history was to cut all business ties with Facebook for continuously mishandling their user data for profit. The messaging app, which considers security as one of its core strengths, earlier this year pulled out all its ad spending on the social media platform and removed the Facebook Connect and GIPHY features within the app.

“We have always believed in Viber’s potential as a lifetime app, as it has become a favorite tool to communicate with family and closest friends, stay on top of the latest news, contact a brand or purchase from a small business, and more,” said Agaoua.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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