Viber to offer travel, payment solutions to Filipinos
Filipino Viber users may soon be able to book flights and hotel accommodations and pay for them via the same platform that is gearing toward becoming a super app catering to various digital needs of consumers.
Atanas Raykov, vice president-growth top markets for Rakuten Viber, told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday they were targeting to provide the payment solution and travel offerings by early next year.
The messaging platform is set to launch Viber Pay—which is already live in several countries including Greece, Germany and Croatia—at a time of high e-wallet adoption in the country.
The stand-alone wallet, Raykov said, would enable users to check balance, send money and avail themselves of discounts from partner merchants.
“This part with the merchants is very important for Philippine ecosystem. We are developing some additional features that is crucial for the launch in the Philippines. It is definitely getting closer,” he said.
Viber, for now, is in talks with a potential local partner, which it prefers to be a financial institution that already holds the requisite licenses for ease of implementation.
As for hospitality and travel, Raykov said launching such offerings “makes a lot of sense” as the airports and hotels were getting crowded again with the easing of border restrictions.
He said such solutions—backed by travel industry partners—were already available in Nepal, Myanmar and other countries.
“When you put all these pieces together, the local merchants, the travel aspect, the payments, the interactive tools and systems, then we approach the critical mass of futuristic functionalities,” the Viber official said.
“This is our ultimate vision that you regard Viber as a [tool] where you can do a lot of useful things related to your life,” he added.
Viber, earlier this year, introduced two new features that are seen to improve interactions of brands and users in the app.
One of them was Business Inbox, a dedicated folder for messages from businesses separate from the users’ personal interactions. Another one was Commercial Account, which is designed to help users find brands and their business information via the app.
Currently, Viber has a 71-percent penetration rate in the country.
Message solutions platform Infobip said that a total of 234 million calls via Viber, with 15.5 million-hour duration, was recorded for the Philippines last year. Some 7.7 billion messages and 50.2 million stickers were sent.
Rakuten Viber senior director for Asia Pacific David Tse previously told the Inquirer that the Philippines accounts for 30 percent of Viber interactions in Asia.