Facebook's partnership with Reliance Jio will help make India one of the world's leading digital societies, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani said this morning, a day after the social media giant invested $5.7 billion for a 9.99 per cent stake in the RIL-owned mobile telecom company.
The deal, which makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in Jio, comes after the government approved WhatsApp's digital payment service, which will now compete with the likes of Google Pay and Paytm for a market that will be worth $135.2 billion in 2023, according to an Assocham-PWC India study.
"All of us at Reliance and Jio are delighted to welcome Facebook Inc. as our long-term and esteemed partner. At the core of our partnership is the commitment Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and I share for the all-round digital transformation of India and for serving all Indians," Mr Ambani was quoted by news agency ANI.
Mr Ambani, for whom this deal offers Reliance much-needed funds after its debt pile swelled to over $40 billion in September, said the partnership between JioMart, Jio's new commerce platform, and WhatsApp will empower around three crore kirana (small grocery store) shops.
"This means all of you can order and get faster delivery of day-to-day items from nearby local shops. At the same time, these stores can grow their businesses and create new employment opportunities using digital technologies," he added.
Mr Ambani also said the partnership would help realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi's goals of "Ease of Living" and "Ease of Doing Business". He also said the digital partnership would soon be extended to other "key stakeholders of Indian society".
"Our farmers, small and medium enterprises, students and teachers healthcare providers and above all women and youth, who form the foundation of a new India," he said.
Shortly before Mr Ambani's message Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said India was in the middle of "major digital transformation" and his company was committed to "opening commerce opportunities across the country".
WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, its biggest market, reaching nearly 80 per cent of smartphone users in the country.
With input from ANI, Reuters