Facebook-owned instant messaging and UPI-enabled payments platform WhatsApp has announced plans to launch micro insurance and pension products by the end of this year.

Also read: WhatsApp Pay goes live in India with four banks as partners

WhatsApp, which counts India as its biggest market with 400 million users, is working in partnership with financial institutions on pilots of micro-insurance, and micro pension products. It is partnering with the SBI General Insurance to provide consumers with health insurance products.

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Abhijit Bose, head of India for WhatsApp, speaking at Facebook’s Fuel for India 2020 event, said some of these micro-finance products which the messaging service app has been piloting over the last few months could go live by end of this year. 

“The ability for people to get insurance coverage — life and health — can protect the financial security of households from unforeseen expenses, especially during the pandemic,” he said, according to ET. “We hope these projects will make it much easier for micro-pensions and health insurance to be scaled to every Indian, regardless of location and income.”

The news also comes as the Facebook-owned messaging service will work in the coming months and throughout 2021 to expand its slate of services to include finance, commerce, education, and social welfare.

WhatsApp, additionally, has also identified four key areas for growth in India – its largest market by customer base – beyond the messaging services that it offers to over 400 million users.

These include growing the WhatsApp Business platform to more users, collaborating with local businesses and governments to offer niche solutions in the field of agriculture, trade, and education, expanding its digital payments through WhatsApp Pay, and scaling social welfare projects.

Bose added that the company was now live on UPI with four banks and 20 million users. These banks, as ET reported earlier, include the State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank.

The Pay platform, which received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India in November to go live, will form the core for several of its long-term projects which include providing digital and commerce solutions for small businesses.

The service is currently operational only in the peer-to-peer (P2P) mode with access allowed only to 20 million customers. Further expansion of these services would be subject to approvals by NPCI and RBI as well.

“We’re excited and privileged to partner with State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and AXIS Bank to bring simple and secure digital payments to WhatsApp users across India,” said Bose.

“UPI is a transformative service and we jointly have the opportunity to bring the benefits of our digital economy and financial inclusion to a large number of users who have not had full access to them before,” he added.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp Pay is off to a slow start as per NPCI data, having processed only 0.31 million transactions worth Rs 13 crore in its first month of operation.