Small businesses and supporting them is a key focus of Facebook and Reliance Jio’s partnership in India, according to Mark Zuckerberg, who spoke at the company’s ‘Facebook Fuel for India’ event. Zuckerberg made the comments in a conversation with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani. He also revealed that WhatsApp has 15 million business app users from India, and that the company was focused on making sure they were building the best tools for these small businesses.
“One of the big opportunities I see with the partnership with Jio Platforms, is the role that we can play together in supporting the millions of small businesses in India – especially now with the impact that Covid is having. It is accelerating the move for a lot of businesses from physical storefronts to digital,” he added. The Facebook CEO also noted that the company tests many of its new features in India first before it rolls them out globally.
In April this year, Facebook picked up a 9.99 per cent stake in Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms at Rs 43,574 crore ($5.7 billion), which was the largest FDI for minority investment in India. Jio Platforms is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited.
Ambani also talked about the Jio-Facebook partnership stressing on WhatsApp in particular and the role it would play with the company’s ‘Jio Mart’ service. Both Jio and WhatsApp have a base of over 400 million customers in India.
“Jio Mart, which is our retail service, has the aspiration of serving tens of millions of small shopkeepers in India, who are the bedrock of employment…Jio brings digital connectivity, WhatsApp now with WhatsApp Pay brings digital interactivity, and the ability to move to close transactions and create value, and Jio Mart brings the unmatched online and offline retail opportunity, that gives our small shops which exist in villages and small towns in India, a chance to digitise and be at par with anybody else in the world,” Ambani said.
Ambani also said that “Facebook’s investment in Jio ‘set the ball rolling’ for FDI investment in India. He said the partnership between the two companies would “demonstrate that it is great for India, Indians, and small Indian businesses,” and this will be visible in the coming months and years.
Zuckerberg also praised India’s Unified Payments Interface, saying it had made sending money as easy as sending a message. WhatsApp just recently launched payments in India after struggling to get regulatory approval for sometime. “Unified Payments Interface makes it easy for anyone to instantly accept payments across different apps. India is the first country in the world to do anything like this. So, we’re grateful to be able to support this kind of innovation and to help to work, to create more prosperity, and help achieve a more Digital India,” he added.
The Facebook CEO added that there was a “tremendous amount to be inspired by, with what is going on in India now.” He said a “lot of other places around the world are going to be better off when they follow some of this lead that India has set, in creating public goods like this (UPI).”
He also confirmed that “India is home to the largest communities in the world, across Facebook and WhatsApp and getting there on Instagram, as well.”
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