We’ve had previous interactions about Panya, first when it launched on Telegram and soon after found a new home on Facebook Messenger, with high anticipation of launching soon on WhatsApp, that’s if the green Messenger opens up its Application Programmable Interface (API ) to developers once again. Whereas these interactions we’ve seen and used before on our phones were test phases, today Panya has officially launched, at a ceremony celebrated at Trendz lounge in Bugolobi.
The well attended media event saw Panya as a startup explain itself to the press about its different case uses, touting themselves as a go-to chatbot for things services. True to their name, Panya is a shortcut to services in and around the capital Kampala, counting over 80 service providers most of them Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and a few large enterprises with B2B or B2C solutions built over chat applications.
The company makes these services accessible over Facebook Messenger, Facebook Pages and Telegram with WhatsApp in the pipeline, in a USSD like interface that prompts users to respond with a number to access the listed services. This they say, reduces data costs incurred if customers were to visit individual apps or websites for the respective service providers.
Panya counts over 6,500 clients and signs up 650 new clients each week with a conversion rate around 30-40% depending on the platform, stressed Tobias Schiedermair, Panya’s C.E.O and Co-Founder.
Panya now allows businesses to showcase their services in chat apps in different mediums such as text, video, images, audio, PDFs. This is to enable them reach more customers and forego user signups since its laid over these chat apps, instead of a standalone app. Asked if Panya will one day go solo with its own app, the immediate response was No, though considerations will be taken if need be.
Service providers have to pay a fee to get their listings integrated into the Panya platform, but this varies depending on the business type. They can also allow customized enterprise solutions on top of offering them training and marketing packages. This is aimed at reducing their customer care costs, targeting and re-targeting of customers as well as increase ad-to-sale conversions. The company counts on service providers like Uber, Safe Boda, Umeme, URA, handymen, Grocers among others
The start-up firm faces challenges like the lack of integration of payment solutions in its chat-bots since the likes of Facebook, whose apps Panya built their chat-bots over are yet to integrate payment modes like cards, P2P payments like mobile money among others. To address this, they employ a cash on delivery mode since Uganda is even a cash based economy, but once they’re available, the company will be happy to integrate them.