Anubhav Nayyar: Viber puts user privacy on top of moneyThe Senior Director, Head of Business Development for the Asia Pacific at Rakuten Viber, on Viber’s future plans in Nepal.
Anubhav Nayyar is the Senior Director, Head of Business Development for Asia Pacific at Rakuten Viber. Nayyar says Viber has clocked 20 percent growth in terms of our overall users in Nepal last year and the market has been expected to grow. Viber has started using local stickers and content focusing all users and has been planning to launch a few new products. The Post’s Pralhad Rijal sat with Nayyar to know about Viber’s future plans in Nepal. Here are the excerpts:
What brings you to Nepal?
All our users are here. We’ve had a very good year in Nepal, this year. We have seen some good growth coming in. And it's largely to meet some of our business partners, potential partners, understand the bit about the market. I mean, personally for me, I do try and come and understand, just in that limited time, more about the user behaviour, what are the things that we can do for the people of Nepal.
Can you tell more about business partnerships?
We work with different companies. We work with media groups and businesses across the world and here also. Media partnerships are definitely something interesting, something which we do extensively in different markets. We also work with organisations; say for example, HamroPatro, which has got daily horoscopes. So we have created a bot with them where people can subscribe and get horoscopes within Viber itself. The basic idea being that, a partnership in our case is about eventually our focus on users. And we want to provide more and more utility in services and usage and reasons for usage; can people who are using get news and daily horoscope within the app? So, these are some examples. In addition to that, we have worked with TVS and we also work with influencers and celebrities.
Are you planning any specific programme in Nepal?
Last year, we clocked 20 percent growth in terms of overall users. And that is a big number which shows a lot of people are using Viber. And we have realised that one of the things which have worked very well for us is localisation. We have seen that local stickers and content are doing really well. We also plan to introduce a localised user interface which, in simple language means that Viber can also be offered in Nepali. So you don't need to know English to use Viber as it will be available in the local language.
Facebook has its own messaging app, WhatsApp and a messaging interface on Instagram too. How does that affect Viber which is a standalone platform?
We do compete with Facebook’s galaxy of apps. I think there are two aspects to it. The first is behaviour in a place where people use multiple apps, five to six years back people typically used one app but people now definitely use more than one. So, I think competition is always good because competition also helps grow the industry. It makes more people join the communication platform. But one major difference is also the fact that we are a more private and secure platform as compared to the Facebook apps. And that’s purely because we put user privacy first.
There are plenty of messaging apps, with their own claims of security and encryption. What do you think is the most outstanding feature of Viber?
I will be very specific about it. Viber is unique as we are the only messaging app that is offering end-to-end encryption by default and is not sharing its data with any social media handle. So, if you go through in detail in every other app, somebody will say they have encryption somebody don’t and some will say we have encryption but we share information. We are the only truly safe and secure app out there. If you look at the competition over the years, Facebook messenger is not end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and gone on record saying that they share all the information with Facebook. The reason I am being very open about it is that this is open knowledge. We are not part of any social network where we need to use this data to earn money somewhere else. And we are not small. For us, we put user privacy on top of money.
Are there any specific features that users should be keeping an eye for?
One of the interesting things which was launched recently is 'Create your own sticker'. The idea is that we want to offer more and more interesting features that help drive engagement. Stickers will continue happening, GIFs is another popular avenue for communication. But what is going to become more and more popular as time passes is artificial intelligence, use of bots, use of what we call chat extensions, which is essentially automated information or content based on subscription. Today, you can subscribe to news channels in Viber and like your friends say hello to you in the morning, you will see your favorite news channel also doing the same and sending you whatever is relevant to you. I think that is something that we will continue doing and focus restlessly and heavily on using AI to provide each user experience that is very relevant.