Most of us who use WhatsApp might have had a run-in with Duta. The chatbot that provided users with updates on the latest news, sports updates and a bunch of other stuff (I wasn’t a big Duta user so I don’t know the rest).
Unfortunately, in late 2019 Duta met an untimely end after WhatsApp shut down their service. WhatsApp did so because Duta had failed to meet its terms and conditions. Whilst an explicit reason wasn’t outlined I believe the issue was simply the fact that Duta was sending messages to thousands of unsaved numbers – something that usually gets numbers banned on WhatsApp.
Enter Hotbox… No, not the smoking of marijuana in a car with all windows/doors closed. Hotbox is actually a locally built chatbot offering similar functionality to Duta.
What can you access on Hotbox?
Once you send a message to the Hotbox bot you can get updates and information related to the following;
Amigo Portal with educational content which includes past exam papers and notes, a dictionary
SoundNation allows users to search and download music, get lyrics, audiobooks and podcasts
Sports & Bets section gives you access to fixtures, results and sporting news
News & Updates gives access to the latest news (local and international), headlines, exchange rates etc
The chatbot is easy enough to use and if whether you’ve used Duta or not the hand holding will make sure that you quickly come to grips with interacting with the bot.
We reached out to Team Amigo representatives who confirmed that the chatbot has over 4000 users since it was deployed at the end of May
Monetizing the chatbot
It’s also pretty interesting to note that Team Amigo is looking to monetize the bot with users informed they are on a trial version with a monthly payment being expected eventually:
You are on a trial period after which you will be paying $50.00 ZWD per month for the HotBox services.
I say users will be expected to pay eventually because the chat bot doesn’t make it clear how long the trial period lasts – something users would probably care to know.
The one concern I have is that Hotbox will suffer a similar fate to Duta and when the user count balloons, Hotbox might violate WhatsApp T&Cs and see themselves booted out. I asked Simbarashe Duane Andre Team Amigo’s CEO how they will avoid suffering the same fate that Duta did and he said they will “simply follow the WhatsApp guidelines.”