Viber on Thursday assured its users that the app would stay free forever as it revealed its goal of becoming a "super-app" for all sorts of transactions including business.
Viber dropped the idea of a paid service that was discussed briefly in favor of pivoting to a platform for both business and personal messaging, chief revenue officer Cristina Constandache said.
Competitor Telegram recently rolled out a premium subscription program that gives users access to extra features at cost.
"We discussed it briefly, but we really did not see the point before. We don't understand why you have to pay for these features that you can control for free in our app today," Constandache said during a media roundtable.
Having observed a 506% year-on-year growth in transactional messages, Constandache said the company was inspired to develop its features in a way that's beneficial for businesses.
Lockdowns brought by the COVID-19 led to the "phenomenal rise" of conversational commerce in the app, giving brands a way to respond to customers needs in a way that’s more natural and personal, she said.
“We’re not aiming to become another WeChat or another Line...We’re not aiming to copy anybody," Constandache said.
"We’re aiming to provide features and services that are going to help you in the Philippines and in other markets around the world," she said.
The messaging platform has a penetration of over 80% in the Philippines, making it the top market for business messaging in the region, she added.
How Viber does it
Viber’s business solutions cover the entire customer journey, and because of this, brands can avoid having to make customers wait or go through unnecessary hurdles, said Etienne Dupont, Viber’s senior director of global sales & B2B marketing.
Viber helps brand spread awareness about their product or services using branded Stickers and Lenses, and advertisements on the app.
They can convert customers and ensure loyalty through features like Business Messages (for bookings, orders, and deliveries), Chatbots (24/7 automated messaging service), and the soon-to-be launched Flash calls for more direct communication.
Viber said it has helped brands like QuadX, a digital logistics and payment processing company that recently launched ShippingCart Plus, which helps subscribers chat with a Personal Account Manager via Viber’s conversational business messages.
Like a concierge, users can ask live agents for sale alerts, shopping advice, follow-up shipments, special handling, Viber partnership manager Berina Tanovic said.
Viber said more developments are coming, as it is working towards a long-term vision of becoming a super-app, a single gateway to multiple services, Constandache said.