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WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging platforms around the world, brings together text, voice, and video, in one channel. That itself makes it a powerful communication tool, both, for people-to-people communication, and people-to-business communication. The reach of the messaging platform in the MEA region, alone, is huge. As of 2017, 75% of all internet users in MENA were on WhatsApp and the figure has only grown.
WhatsApp Business helps organisations capitalize on the massive reach and immediacy of the platform. With the help of WhatsApp Business API, companies can reach a wide audience and improve their customer experience. In fact, there are quite a few organisations in the MEA region that are showing the way. The Saudi Investment Bank, for instance, has integrated WhatsApp in its communication strategy to make banking more accessible. Here are other prominent names in the growing list of businesses in the MEA region using WhatsApp to improve their overall offerings.
One of the biggest challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak is disseminating accurate, reliable information, on a day-to-day basis. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is tackling it through a WhatsApp bot. Named WHO Health Alert, the chatbot gives out COVID-related information, such as travel advice, symptoms, and real-time information on cases around the world.
Interestingly, WHO Health Alert takes the idea from a similar initiative by Praekelt.org. A non-profit organisation, Praekelt was using a WhatsApp chatbot for educating people in South Africa on maternal health. Launched in March 2020, WHO Health Alert is available in more than 20 languages, including English and Arabic.
Another WhatsApp Business success story from South Africa is YeboFresh, an online grocery delivery startup. The tech company uses WhatsApp to connect consumers with live agents in the field. Through Yebo Fresh's WhatsApp Business account, people can search for available products and track their orders in real-time. It integrates directly with the company's online shopping platform. Thus, users can order their daily groceries without ever leaving WhatsApp.
The company seems to be resonating with the people of Cape Town. WeeTracker, which owns Yebo Fresh, raised an undisclosed amount of funding in 2019 for expansion.
The Covid-19 outbreak has hit everyone hard. Businesses worldwide have prioritized communication in order to keep their customers informed. Standard Bank is doing it through WhatsApp Business. Through the company's chatbot on the messaging platform, customers can get accurate information on the bank's Covid-19 policy. This includes information on availability of banking services; financial support for businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic; and the bank's contribution to the South African government's relief effort.
One of the biggest malls in Kuwait, 360 Mall is changing the shopping experience for customers through technology. People can interact with its chatbot, Nouf, via WhatsApp. A bilingual chatbot, it can guide people to the nearest restaurants; make suggestions for brands based on customers' shopping history; and even suggest movies. According to the company, Nouf is like having your very own personal shopping assistant. Since customers can interact with the bot in English and Arabic, it covers the entire demographic of Kuwait.
Travelstart, one of the most prominent online travel portals in the MEA region, uses WhatsApp Business for customer support. Users can get answers to their common travel queries through the company's WhatsApp business account. Based in Cape Town, Travelstart serves more than 18 countries in the MEA region and has serviced more than a million passengers.
One of the oldest banks in West Africa, First Bank of Nigeria has embraced chat banking through WhatsApp. With the help of the messaging platform, customers can carry out several banking transactions. These include checking their balance, sending money, paying bills, and generating their account statements. Opting-in to the bank's chat banking facility is pretty straightforward, too. Customers need to provide their bank account number, validate their debit card, and setup their WhatsApp pin. Users can reset their forgotten passwords in the app itself with the help of their linked debit card.
OgoLord is one of the biggest success stories for WhatsApp Business to emerge out of Africa. The Lagos-based company trades in food and food-related items, such as fish, cashew, and charcoal. It uses WhatsApp Business for coordinated communication with its suppliers and customers. The trading company is not restricted to Africa, alone. Thanks to technology, it has expanded its operations to places such as Spain, Vietnam, and even the US. With the help of automated messaging on WhatsApp, OgoLord International can respond to customer queries at odd hours, even when there is nobody at the customer-support desk.
Given the reach of the platform, WhatsApp Business can be an incredibly powerful communication tool for enterprises. For one, it allows businesses to have a 24/7 customer service desk, through automated messaging. That itself can be a huge competitive advantage in a global order, allowing smaller businesses to cater to a much wider audience.
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