Spotlight on super-app Rakuten Viber’s free in-chat payments in EU
For close to a billion users around the globe, Rakuten Viber is a key tool for keeping in touch with friends and family.
Last year, Rakuten Viber announced a new feature that promises to make the app an even more integral part of everyday life: Free, seamless payments from inside regular chats — as easy as sending a message.
The new service is being rolled out in the EU, with plans to expand into more countries and currencies on the horizon. Currently, the feature is live in Greece and Germany where users can activate their Viber wallets and start making payments.
A history on the cutting edge
Viber has long been at the forefront of functionality in the messaging app arena. The app was originally built in 2010 by a group of friends looking for an affordable alternative to expensive international calls (one of the founders was in a long-distance relationship). It quickly made a name for itself as early smartphone users realized the true potential of app-based mobile communication.
Over the past 13 years, the team has continued to build new features into the app to serve its loyal customers in more aspects of everyday life. Users were soon able to make video calls, call regular phone lines and send messages with quirky stickers — a fun feature that was largely unheard of in many markets in 2013.
In 2016, Viber became one of the first major messaging apps to implement end-to-end encryption for all users by default, turning it into a beacon of privacy and security during a turbulent time for the industry. The ability to delete and edit sent messages — another feature we take for granted today — also launched several years before other major messaging platforms. In 2016, Viber and Western Union collaborated to offer users cross-border money transfer capabilities.
The same year also saw the implementation of support for chatbots, allowing anyone to build in-app bots with which users can converse to receive a variety of services — anything from weather forecasts to diet support to entertainment recommendations. In 2020, chatbot functionality was expanded to work with external payment services, highlighting yet another use case for the feature-packed app.
The next evolution: In-chat payments
With Viber Pay, the team is taking this payment functionality one step further, making it a native feature of the Rakuten Viber app.
Viber Pay enables users to make payments inside the very chat with whomever they are looking to pay, enjoying the privacy and security for which Viber is renowned. All payments will require a personal code or biometric identification, and payment confirmations are encrypted by default.
“Rakuten Viber is already one of the world’s top messengers, and with fintech capabilities Viber will extend its utility and value to make it an absolutely essential app for hundreds of millions of users.”Ofir Eyal, CEO, Rakuten Viber
The in-chat payments feature is completely free, using funds stored in the user’s Viber Wallet, which can be added via credit card or bank transfer. The company is also working to add various incentives for Viber Pay users, such as partner rewards, referrals and more.
Viber Pay was first launched in Germany, where Viber was recently named one of the most secure messaging apps, and Greece, where Viber is installed on over 91% of smartphones. In addition to allowing users to make domestic payments in euros, cross-border payments are already available between Germany and Greece. Plans are also in the works to support more currencies as the feature expands beyond the EU.
Entering the fintech arena
“Rakuten Viber is already one of the world’s top messengers, and with fintech capabilities Viber will extend its utility and value to make it an absolutely essential app for hundreds of millions of users,” commented Rakuten Viber CEO Ofir Eyal. “User-friendly payment features will allow users to effortlessly connect, engage and transact inside and across borders without ever leaving their preferred messaging platform.”
To make Viber Pay a reality, the team worked with London-based fintech provider Rapyd.
“We’re thrilled that Rapyd is serving as the licensed cross-border payments solution powering this historic milestone for Rakuten Viber: Becoming one of the world’s first messaging platforms to offer secure in-app payments to its global user base,” said Rapyd CEO Arik Shtilman. “Through this partnership, the combined power of Viber and Rapyd’s leading security and seamless embedded payments capabilities means millions of users can feel confident conducting their financial transactions via a single messaging app.”
With this bold step into the fast-moving world of fintech, Rakuten Viber continues to stand proudly on the cutting edge, empowering users in new areas of their everyday lives.