MANILA - Rakuten Viber unveiled on Thursday new business-centric updates to its messaging app, and said it expects its payments feature to go live this year.
Viber, which said it already has 71 percent penetration in the Philippines, said its “Business Inbox” and a searchable “Commercial Account” will further help its goal to become a superapp.
Cristina Constandache, chief revenue officer at Rakuten Viber said from 2021 to 2022, Viber saw a 603 percent increase in transactional business messages and an 83 percent increase in conversational business messages. She also noted an 11 percent increase in promotional business messages as well as a 34 percent increase in the number of new chatbots.
Viber said its Business Inbox, which is a dedicated space for brand-user interactions, now allows for all business messages from official brand accounts to be stored and organized in one folder.
These messages include bank notifications, order confirmations from delivery services, or special offers from stores, among others.
“Business Inbox will be activated once the user receives their first business message. For users that have had conversations with businesses in the past, all the chats with businesses will move to Business Inbox automatically once the feature is released (for Viber version 18.0 and higher),” the company said.
Meanwhile, the new searchable Commercial Accounts feature will let users find brands and initiate communication with brands on their own.
Commercial Accounts lets users who want to connect with a business on Viber to choose the channel they prefer and have a mini-website experience within the app, Viber added.
“The recent updates to Viber provide a strong foundation for the introduction of additional features as part of the company's superapp strategy,” said Constandache who joined the Philippine press launch of the the new features via a video call.
Constandache also said company aims to launch its Viber Pay feature within the year.
Viber Pay allows users send money and receive money worldwide, within the app. According to its FAQ, Viber Pay is currently available only to residents of Germany and Greece.
Last year, the company said Viber Pay would be launched in the Philippines in 2023.
During the launch of the new business features on Jan. 27 however, Constandache explained that Viber Pay still needs to get approval from Philippine financial regulators.
“If all the approvals, all the procedures work as they should, fingers crossed, we may see Viber Pay in the Philippines before the end of the year,” Constandache said.
David Tse, Asia-Pacific senior director at Rakuten Viber noted that more users have been using the app's new features and solutions.
“This growth tells us we are on the right track in always prioritizing our customers,” Tse said.