Viber usage spikes as pandemic strikes

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Viber, one of the world’s leading apps for free and easy communication, has recorded an overall increase in app usage across the Asia Pacific region in 2020, a year marked by massive changes on how people communicate and interact with each other as caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The app ended the year with a 421 percent growth in the number of users and a 509 percent growth in messages sent, with the Communities feature experiencing the most robust growth.

This makes 2020 one of Viber’s strongest years in its 10-year history as specific markets in the region like the Philippines also logged notable growth rates.

In the Philippines, Viber recorded a 24 percent increase in users. Based on the numbers logged on Viber, it seemed that Filipinos spent more time on Viber Communities last year as users who viewed Communities jumped 198 percent and messages sent grew 144 percent. They were also texting and calling more since Viber recorded 31 percent leap on messages sent and 41 percent in calls made.

To continuously provide its users with topnotch service and enhance their app experience, Viber in 2020 also introduced new features such as My Notes that enabled users to sync their to-do lists and media across all their devices, Birthday Reminders that help users know who among their contacts are celebrating their special day, Disappearing Messages that allows people to set a limit to the lifespan of sensitive texts, and GIF Creator that brings out every user’s creativity.

As a response to COVID-19 pandemic that forced people to increase their online interactions, Viber last year also bolstered its capacities and doubled the maximum number of participants to 20 people at once in Group Video and Audio Calls. The app also entered into key partnerships that provided users life-saving information about COVID-19.

The World Health Organization launched a Viber chatbot that answers some of the people’s pressing questions on the coronavirus. The Philippines’ own Department of Health, meanwhile, created its own Viber Community and Kira Chatbot to provide crucial updates on the situation in the country.

Continuing its mission to put its users at the center of its operations and protect their privacy within the app, Viber decided in 2020 to cut all business ties with Facebook for continuously mishandling user data for profit. The messaging app, which considers security as one of its pillars, pulled out all its ad spending on the social media platform and removed the Facebook Connect and Giphy features within the app.

“2020 would really go down in history as one of those years that changed the course of our lives. Through my many interactions with my colleagues in Asia, I’ve witnessed how Filipinos and their neighbors in Asia faced the pandemic with resilience and resourcefulness, finding ways to survive and thrive. We at Viber are inspired by their fighting spirit as we realize the value of the work we do behind the scenes and the immense impact we have on the lives of our users, especially at a time of physical distancing,” said Anna Znamenskaya, chief growth officer at Rakuten Viber.

Rakuten Viber also marked its 10th anniversary in 2020 and revealed plans to turn the messaging platform into an all-in-one or lifetime app by introducing new capabilities and features, starting with the launch of Chatbot Payments that allow users to securely purchase products and services from merchants and accept payments directly through the app.

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