In line with rumors from last month, Facebook announced today that it has picked up a 9.99% stake in India’s biggest telecom operator – Reliance Jio. The social media giant has invested a whopping $5.7 billion (Rs. 43,574 crores) in the company.
This investment values Reliance Jio at a whopping $65.95 billion (. The telco kicked off its operations less than four years ago. It has already surpassed its rivals, Airtel and Vodafone Idea, to take the pole position with over 388 million users. This investment also makes Facebook the biggest minority stakeholder in Reliance Jio.
“This investment underscores our commitment to India and our excitement for the dramatic transformation that Jio has spurred in the country,” said David Fischer, Chief Revenue Officer, and Ajit Mohan, VP and Managing Director, India in a blog post. They further add that the company is “committed to connecting more people in India together with Jio.”
Now, if you are wondering, what this partnership will have in store for us? Facebook has emphasized that its partnership with Jio “will be focused on opening new doors and fueling India’s economic growth and the prosperity of its people.” Both the tech giants will focus on enabling small businesses, which are over 60 billion in number in India, to boost their presence and reach a wider audience. It’s already in the process of training them on how to use WhatsApp Business tools.
The official blog post sheds light on one such project, which talks about “bringing together JioMart, Jio’s small business initiative, with the power of WhatsApp.” This could mean that JioMart will exist over WhatsApp, enabling users to browse products and buy them from within WhatsApp itself. All of the groceries and food supplies will be sourced from a small business in your locality, thus, building a “seamless mobile experience.”
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in an official post, also comments on the investment saying that both companies are “committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India.”
Facebook already has a prominent presence in India but its partnership with Jio will only further give force to the social media giant to expand its reach. It boasts over 241 million active users in the country, as of June 2019. Reliance Jio, on the other hand, burgeoned into a technology behemoth over the past couple of years. It has a boatload of online platforms and services under its belt, including Jio Saavn, LYF mobiles, Jio Fiber, e-commerce venture AJIO, and a lot more.