How WhatsApp is enabling micro-pension and insurance in India for underserved users

At Facebook’s Fuel for India 2020, Gautam Bhardwaj from pinBox, Sumit Shukla from HDFC, and Pavithra YS from Vindhya e-Infomedia, talk about digital and financial inclusion in India, and using WhatsApp to enable micro-pension and insurance schemes.
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“For the majority of us, WhatsApp is the last screen we fall asleep to and the first screen we wake up to,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp, contextualising the popularity of the app at Facebook’s Fuel for India 2020, a digital conclave featuring conversations and stories that are shaping India’s growth.

“WhatsApp is deeply committed to India. With over 400 million active users, this is our largest market. Our primary focus will always be to be the most simple, reliable, private and secure experience for people to connect with each other,” he said,

Enabling financial inclusion

Contextualising how WhatsApp stays committed to accelerating digital and financial inclusion in India by providing easy access to financial tools like micro pension and insurance at scale, along with partners, he said,

“COVID-19 has unfortunately highlighted how vulnerable many people are to financial shocks in their lives. WhatsApp has proactively been working on several pilots that ensure that every adult has access to the most basic and critical livelihood and financial services through their mobile devices.”

“By the end of this year, we expect that people will be able to buy affordable sachet-sized insurance through WhatsApp."

"Similarly, saving today for a dignified retirement tomorrow, would be a boon for the informal sector in India, especially for people who do not have employment benefits or savings to fall back on in their old age. This can now be enabled through WhatsApp. These pilots, along with others in edtech and agritech to name a few, all hold tremendous promise that will help support the Government of India’s priorities for a more digitised economy, especially for rural and underserved segments,” he added, before handing over the narrative to the partner-presenters.

Retiring with dignity and buying a pension on WhatsApp

Pension and social protection arrangements in India have been traditionally restricted to the salaried workers in the formal sector. This is a gigantic problem given that 90 percent of our workforce, or over 400 million individuals are self-employed or are informal sector workers. Without pension benefits, each of them faces a very high risk of extreme poverty for over 20 years, once they drop out of the workforce. The only sustainable option, therefore, is to encourage and enable the current economically active informal sector workers to start saving for their old age.

pinBox says it is committed exclusively to digital micro-pension inclusion by designing, building and deploying inclusive, digital micro-pension systems that enable and encourage non-salaried workers to save for a secure and dignified retirement. To realise that, pinBox partnered with WhatsApp to give access to millions of workers to buy a micro-pension within minutes.

“At pinBox, we’re working towards digital micro pension inclusion where we help design, build and deploy digital micro pension programmes. WhatsApp can be a very powerful glue to help us connect the supply and demand for pensions in India,” said Gautam Bhardwaj, Co-founder of pinBox, who spoke on how the fintech player was leveraging the messaging platform to help address the challenges of digital literacy and to empower the digital micro pensions ecosystem in India.

Enabling social protection inclusion via NPS

Speaking about how HDFC Pension is playing a key role in pension and social protection as well as financial inclusion by putting affordability at the centre of its pension products, Sumit Shukla, CEO, HDFC Pensions, said, “Our flagship product, NPS, is the cheapest product in the world. The government has kept it that way because it wants most people to use it as a product.”

“I’m proud of our association with WhatsApp because it is enabling digital and financial inclusion at an accelerated rate. WhatsApp as a platform is multilingual, secure and is revolutionising how financial services are accessed and facilitated in our country,” he added.

Transforming the lives of the differently-abled

“We always wanted to create an impactful organisation. As we were thinking about what the idea could be, that’s when we saw a person with disability crossing the road. This made me conscious about creating a platform for people with disabilities who face different challenges. That was my moment of inspiration for Vindhya,” said Pavithra VS, Founder and Managing Director, Vindhya e-Infomedia, a BPO that currently employs over 1,500 people from disadvantaged sections of society.

“Close to 40 percent of my employees come from a community of people with disabilities, while the rest of them come from a rural background, and we also include transgender persons.”

Talking about how these digital financial inclusion tools have empowered his life, Pundalk S Patil, a visually-challenged employee who works as Customer Service Support with Vindhya e-Infomedia says, “I feel better now that I earn and invest in the pension scheme. In the event of any unforeseen event, my kids and wife will be happy that I’ve been able to do something for them.”

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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