HDFC has tied-up with Niki.ai to launch a chatbot called OnChat on Facebook’s Messenger platform, that will allow users to recharge phones, pay utility bills, book cabs from Ola or Uber etc., through a chat. The chatbot is available for non-HDFC bank users as well.

In India there are a few apps which can process bill payments and recharges over chats. FreeCharge had a clever workaround to enable payments on WhatsApp. Bill splitting app Mypoolin also has a chatbot where users need to enter a person’s bank account number to transfer money, and YES Bank has said that it would be creating an ecosystem of apps with its UPI backing it.

To sign up, users only need to find ‘HDFC Bank OnChat’ on Messenger, and message a ‘Hi’. The platform then verifies the user’s phone number, and prompts them to carry out transactions. This includes mobile recharges, bill payments for electricity, water, gas, DTH etc., and cab bookings. Users can ask the bot for suggestions like ‘recommended data plans’ etc., or issue orders like ‘cancel transaction’, to get relevant responses.

The platform saves user data, so bill details are automatically saved for future payments. For payments, the platform prompts users to pay either via Paytm, Freecharge or PayuMoney, using which users can pay via debit/credit cards etc. The chatbot simply facilitates the transaction via another payment portal.

The platform still has limitations – users cannot pick special recharge packs offered by any mobile operator, or delink their Ola or Uber account once linked, although the bank mentions it will soon add these features. Other features the bank mentions it will introduce include hotel booking, bus booking, flight tickets and event tickets.