Social media channels are known largely as platforms where people mainly connect for leisure and entertainment. That is why they are full of jokes and memes. However, this is changing as people and firms turn them into channels for investment, marketing brands and as vehicles for provision of services.  

Pension firm, Zamara Group is the latest of firms that seek to tap the business potential of the social media to power their growth.

The pension firm has launched a pension scheme riding on online messaging app WhatsApp.  Fahari retirement plan will allow individuals to save as low as Sh20 daily or Sh300 monthly in the plan targeting the informal sector.

The savers will access the funds after 50 years in lump sum or as regular income. Individuals are, however, allowed to withdraw the savings anytime without penalty.

Users are required to save Farahi number as a contact on their phone, then send text in the messaging app to register.

The new pension scheme underlines how firms are increasingly tapping social media platforms to launch innovative products.

Messaging apps such as WhatsApp are rising in popularity in the corporate world as they support conversational and personalised services as a transition away from apps, chat boxes in their websites and eliminating need to visit physical branches. 

The social media channels such as Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram have become common with companies utilising the platform for on-boarding customers and customer services.

Zamara says WhatsApp is ideal to drive their business growth because it is a tool that connects the society.  

“We are using a channel that more than 12 million Kenyans use. This is the app we use to communicate with our friends, family and connect with brands and businesses,” says Zamara Group chief executive Sundeep Raichura.

 “Now you can use WhatsApp to enrol, join a pension plan, save and take out insurance.”

HF Group, Absa Bank and KCB Bank have in past introduced banking services on WhatsApp for transactions such as balance inquiry, loan applications, bill payments, airtime purchase and money transfers.

‘’This should help us to increase financial inclusion penetration into segments that we are not able to because as financial services providers, it’s difficult for us to have a presence in every part of the country and have salespeople everywhere,” Mr Raichura noted.

Zamara which manages over Sh300 billion pension funds and with over 170,000 Kenyans is eying over 600,000 customers on the service over the next one year and five million in the next five year.

Mr Raichura said they are engaging National Treasury and regulator, Retirement Benefits Authority to allow customers access credit using the savings.

The product will be provided in partnerships with funds held by Equity Bank, money invested in a single portfolio by Co-operative Bank and insurance provided by Prudential Insurance.