15 May 2020
Facebook has announced its plans to invest $5.7 billion (about INR 43,574 crore) in Jio Platforms. The latter is a tech subsidiary of Reliance Jio, a company under the Reliance Industries umbrella which is owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani. The investment will allow Facebook to acquire a 9.9% stake in Jio making it the highest minority stakeholder in the company. It is also the biggest foreign investment in India's tech industry.
Jio is the biggest telecom company in the country and serves about 388 million customers. It is the company responsible for offering the world's cheapest 4G LTE data plans that helped millions of people come online. Since it became operational, it has played a crucial role in digital adoption which eventually proved beneficial for many other internet-based companies.
India has been a major market for Facebook for quite a long time. It has tried to reach a mass audience in the past as well but none of the plans worked as per expectations. As of now, WhatsApp is the Facebook-owned product that has the widest reach and with the new investment deal, we could expect both companies to come up with some sort of integration.
We already know that WhatsApp has been working on offering UPI-based mobile payment solutions to Indian users. It has been under development for a long time and is still no closer to a wider rollout. There is now a possibility that WhatsApp might integrate with Jio's JioMoney to offer similar functionality.
The official blog post says,
"Our goal is to enable new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but especially for the more than 60 million small businesses across India. They account for the majority of jobs in the country, and form the heart and soul of rural and urban communities alike. One focus of our collaboration with Jio will be creating new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy. For instance, by bringing together JioMart, Jio’s small business initiative, with the power of WhatsApp, we can enable people to connect with businesses, shop and ultimately purchase products in a seamless mobile experience."