Facebook-Jio Deal Aims To Bring Kirana Stores Into E-Commerce Fold: Mukesh Ambani
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. and Facebook Inc. will look to use WhatsApp for delivering goods from kirana stores, billionaire Mukesh Ambani said soon after announcing the Rs 43,574-crore Facebook-Jio deal.
The collaboration will then be expanded to education and healthcare sectors, the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd. added.
Facebook will invest $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms Ltd., the U.S. social-networking giant’s biggest deal since the 2014 purchase of WhatsApp as it seeks a broader foothold in its biggest global market.
The U.S. company will buy about 10% of Jio Platforms, becoming the largest minority shareholder, RIL said in a statement Wednesday. Separately, Facebook said the deal would bring together JioMart, an e-commerce venture of Ambani and its WhatsApp platform to enable people to connect with businesses.
"All of us at Reliance and Jio are delighted to welcome Facebook Inc.," Ambani said in a short video message posted on the group's social media handles.
"The combined power of Jio’s world-class digital connectivity platform and Facebook's intimate relationship with the Indian people will offer innovative new solutions to each one of you," Ambani said.
"In the very near future, JioMart—Jio's digital new commerce platform, and WhatsApp will empower nearly 3 crore small Indian kirana shops to digitally transact with every customer in their neighbourhood.
"This means all of you can order and get faster delivery of day-to-day items, from nearby local shops. At the same time, small kiranas can grow their businesses and create new employment opportunities using digital technologies," Ambani said.
The Facebook-Jio deal will allow RIL to cut debt and give the social media company deeper access into India, the world’s second-largest internet market after China.
Facebook already has over 400 million WhatsApp users in India and is looking to launch a payments app bundled into the messaging service. Having a local partner could help it navigate various regulatory issues, including those related to privacy and local storage.
According to Ambani, the core of the Jio-Facebook partnership is the commitment that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and he share for the all-round digital transformation of India for serving all Indians.
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"Together, our two companies will accelerate India's digital economy to empower you, to enable you and to enrich you. Our partnership will be a great catalyst to make India the world's leading digital society," he said.