South Africans may soon be able to pay bills, buy clothes and get flight tickets through WhatsApp - here’s how it’ll work

Business Insider SA
  • WhatsApp recently released code which made paying bills and making online purchases via the social media platform possible.
  • This week, Absa was the first South African bank to launch a WhatsApp banking service. 
  • A service provider says WhatsApp's Business code will disrupt commerce in South Africa. 

South African consumers may soon be able to pay bills, make online purchases and receive flight booking passes through WhatsApp, says Desmond Kurz, marketing director at Clickatell. 

WhatsApp recently released code which made paying bills and making online purchases via the social media platform possible.

Clickatell is one of a few global service providers who has gained early access to WhatsApp’s business code. The company was founded in South Africa in 2000, and has since moved its head office to California. 

It recently partnered with Absa to launch South Africa’s first WhatsApp banking platform, ChatBanking

Read: You can turn your teller into a pirate, and other cool hacks on Absa’s new WhatsApp banking

Kurz expects WhatsApp's new business abilities will disrupt commerce in South Africa. 

"Customers naturally gravitate towards businesses offering them convenient, simpler and quick ways to get what they need," Kurz told Business Insider South Africa. "And this gives the businesses an edge over the competition." 

It is estimated that roughly 50% of South Africans are active WhatsApp users, compared to the 24% of the country who is on Facebook.

Kurz said the new WhatsApp changes allow for the following services via the platform: 

  • Critical notifications of travel changes such as gate updates or delayed or cancelled flights. Other useful notifications could also include flight confirmations, boarding passes or any other information a traveller may require.
  • Purchase, delivery or tracking information or updates like product availability or return notifications.
  • Insurance claim flows; transaction notifications; reporting lost or stolen cards; account balance notifications; rewards enquiries and document requests such as tax certificates.

Business will use WhatsApp to communicate with customers - either through automatic responses or service consultants. 

An example of how Absa's WhatsApp banking service looks like (supplied)

Kurz says WhatsApp has secure end-to-end messaging encryption which makes the risk of using the service to conduct bank transactions minimal. 

“This is the one reason banks are particularly keen to have a presence on the channel," he says. 

Clickatell is also rolling out WhatsApp banking services in Nigeria with First Bank of Nigeria, GTBank and United Bank of Africa.

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