Viber believes it can provides solace to Bangladeshi through arranging some cricket related programmes and applications
Viber is one of the most popular online messaging platforms in Bangladesh and by remaining faithful to its core values- ease of use, secured and convenience- the company is relentlessly trying to serve myriads of users in the country. Cricket is by far the most popular game in the country and during the grim period of global pandemic Viber believes it can provides solace to Bangladeshi through arranging some cricket related programmes and applications. Dhaka Tribune talked with David Tse, Senior Director, APAC of Rakuten viber in Bangladesh, and Habibul Bashar, former Test captain of Bangladesh who is currently working as a selector for national team.
DT to Habibul Bashar: How challenging is the period of the pandemic has been for you and most cricket players?
Habibul Bashar: It was quite a letdown for all of us involved in cricket. I and the players have had a very challenging time during the pandemic. In fact, we are still facing the same kind of challenges at the moment as the virus is still on the loose. If a player is kept away from the fields for a long time and cannot play regularly, it automatically affects his overall performance. However, the good thing is that despite the challenging situations, our players did not lose morale and left no stone unturned to sweat themselves in order to remain fit. They have regularly hit the gym, exercised, and taken other initiatives to maintain their fitness.
DT to David Tse: What type of challenges has the pandemic resulted in for Viber and instant messaging applications?
David Tse: When the pandemic suddenly hit all of us, we were a bit shaken in the beginning. But, we were proactive and acted very fast to understand the changed reality and take steps accordingly. We went over our strategies and devised new plans prioritizing product developments that our users need in these challenging times. Viber had to be agile for living up to the expectations of our users, especially when the pandemic just started because suddenly everyone was confined within the homes, and so, messaging apps like Viber were the handiest communication tool for everyone. Accordingly, we catered to our users’ needs and looked after our employees as well.
DT to Habibul Bashar : Given the postponed Cricket games, what is your viewpoint about the Cricket Bot and Cricket Talks Viber Community? How do you think it will heighten the excitement of cricket fans of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka despite the cancellation of games?
Habibul Bashar: Features like Cricket Bot and Cricket Talks Viber Community are really commendable initiatives as these offer a diversion from all the pandemic anxiety and create moments of joy and excitement for the cricket fans of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Before the suspension of cricket games, cross-sections of people were actively taking part in the Cricket Bot. Hopefully, it will again be full of exuberant activities once cricket resumes. However, the good thing is that Cricket Talks Viber Community is still very active, and contents with great alacrity in this community. This community, I think, has been a great blessing for all those fans and cricket-related people who are missing the nail-biting moments of excitement in cricket matches as they can open up on this platform.
DT to David Tse : Viber is known to bring numerous prediction contests for sports. Do you think cricket fans will appreciate the effort behind the initiative, and it will increase their excitement of the upcoming games even while being in lockdown?
David Tse: Yes, of course. The main intention behind launching this new feature was to ensure maximum excitement and, in turn, pure entertainment to our users during the lockdown. And observing the kind of response we got within a few days of its launching, it can undoubtedly be said that cricket fans were enjoying and making the most out of the cricket bot. Lots of people were using this bot, but unfortunately, the most popular cricket leagues and other matches have been postponed in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic. However, despite the fact that cricket matches have been suspended for the time being, the passion for cricket is still pervasive among the fans. Cricket Talks by Viber allows those cricket aficionados to read about myriads of contents related to cricket. Moreover, once the situation lets up, we will ensure that people from all walks of life can again make predictions through this cricket bot.
DT to Habibul Bashar : Most things have a flip side. Thus, do you think that the pandemic has worked as a blessing in disguise for the cricket players?
Habibul Bashar: For any sports professional, it is unfortunate when he/she cannot play or step into the fields/track to perform since it can hamper their performance in the long run. But, at the same time, we do understand the gravity of the situation. I hope that things will be looking up very soon and players will again be able to play or perform.
DT to David Tse : What about Viber? We know that digital usage globally has increased during the pandemic. Thus, how did the current crisis might have worked as the silver lining for the instant messaging apps?
David Tse: The silver lining for us was that we had the chance to work on the priorities and necessities of our users more closely. As the reality was different and people counted on messaging apps, we observed and listened to the needs of the users with utmost sincerity and worked on those. Consequently, the speed and efficacy of product developments were put to the test as we have to come up with solutions and new ideas to meet the expectations of our users. In the process, we have evolved by introducing innovative features like the Cricket Bot and Cricket Viber community that have provided the users a new outlet to extract fun and entertainment. In the meantime, Viber has expanded its group video calls capacity to up to 30 participants on one call during the pandemic taking the necessity of the users into account. The capacity was extended at a time when cross-sections of people were in dire need of a reliable platform offering video calls to communicate with each other to keep them safe. We have responded to the users’ requirements and lived up to their expectations.
DT to Habibul Bashar : Pandemic is affecting every industry globally. How do you think the crisis will change the sports industry, especially cricket?
Habibul Bashar: Since the pandemic is taking a heavy toll on every industry, it is only natural that the sports industry will also have to bear the brunt. Owing to social distancing norms, people now cannot enjoy cricket matches live just yet. We can only pray that it will not continue for too long and everything, including the cricket industry, will hum again.
DT to David Tse: How do you think pandemic will change the instant messaging application sector?
David Tse: This pandemic will demand the instant messaging application sector to quickly adapt and evolve. Viber has already integrated and added new features to serve that purpose in line with its vision becoming a meta-app. To that end, we have brought in new features that will ameliorate the lifestyle of our users. Fintech integration such as e-wallets, e-banking, and e-commerce is just one of those recent additions with many other such features in the offing.