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Using chatbots to dispel doubts about coronavirus

Startup firm Haptik uses chatbots to address the confusion and questions around the virus.

February 27, 2020 / 06:47 PM IST

V Bhatia

  • 130 new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus detected in Japan.

  • 490 new confirmed infections in China’s Wuhan, death toll rises to 2,592.

  • Anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, has cured 12,552 COVID-19 patients in Africa.

  • Cannabis improves immunity against the deadly virus, while ‘green chiretta’ can prevent and relieve its symptoms.

  • Coronavirus had infected chickens in Pakistan and Mumbai, leading to drop in meat sales.

Which of the above statements are true? Can’t figure it out. You’re not alone.

A significant fallout of the lethal COVID-19 virus, in addition to massive loss of human lives and its terrible impact on global economy, is the quantum of misinformation circulating about it. The WHO is fighting this ‘info-demic’ to prevent a panic situation, while also working on finding a cure to the illness.

To support its efforts, Mumbai’s conversational AI startup, Haptik, built a WhatsApp chatbot that acts as a 2019-nCov helpdesk. Talking why the company, which majorly works with the BFSI segment, decided to create this public service utility, Kartik Poddar, Business Head, Haptik explained that panic and confusion set in during an epidemic before one can understand the problem’s true scale. This is because no one has any knowledge about the cause of the virus or its source, let alone a cure. This leads to lots of misinformation being spread that has no basis or relation to the virus.

“Our idea was to collate the right information from WHO on a single platform for ease of access to benefit the average person. Since conversational AI lends itself well to answer FAQs, we thought to use this technology to address the confusion and questions around coronavirus,” he added.

Choosing Whatsapp as a platform was a no-brainer, since it has 1.6 billion plus active users globally with over 400 million in India alone. Its easy accessibility and preferred choice of communication made it the ideal medium to distribute information related to virus.


Talking about users who have accessed the 2019-nCov helpdesk since its launch on 10th February, 2020, Poddar said, “We are looking at over 1000 users having more than 1500 conversations, which is expected to scale up significantly in the coming weeks.”

This pro-bono offering aside, Haptik works with BFSI companies, ecommerce and digital companies to improve customer service experience through conversational AI chatbots. According to Poddar, these segments lead in the adoption of these solutions in India, as compared to other domains. This trend could have to do with the large scale of their business and the diverse profile of customers and the resultant queries users have. Conversational commerce solutions can help these companies drive exponential revenue and also acquire new customers.

In January 2020, Haptik developed Kotak Life at Your Assistance (KAYA) voice assistant for Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company (Kotak Life). It also designed a time-sensitive and context-aware 24x7 Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) for IIFL Holdings Limited.
Moneycontrol News
Tags: #BFSITech
first published: Feb 27, 2020 06:47 pm
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