Facebook looks to replicate the partnership that its messaging service WhatsApp has with Reliance Industries (RIL)-owned Jio Platforms with other Indian and global players, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
“A big part of the partnership that we have with Jio will be to wire up and get thousands of kiranas, small businesses across India, onboarded onto WhatsApp to do commerce there,” he said during the company’s second quarter earnings conference call.
“And once we prove that out with Jio in India, we're planning on expanding it to more folks in India and to other countries as well,” the social media networking platform’s founder said.
As WhatsApp’s biggest global market with a 400 million user base, Zuckerberg expects India to be one of the company’s fastest-growing business opportunities.
On April 22, the Menlo Park, California based firm announced a $5.7 billion investment in Jio Platforms for a 9.99% stake.
The deal will empower Jio’s new commerce platform, JioMart, to bring together three crore kirana stores on messaging platform WhatsApp, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of RIL, said at the time.
India is expected to outpace the rest of the world to have more than 9oo million mobile and internet users by 2023, as per a Cisco report.
Facebook had earlier tried to tap into the burgeoning mobile user market with its Free Basics initiative. However, it was banned in India in February 2016, when the country’s national telecom regulator ruled that the initiative challenged net neutrality principles.
Over the years, Facebook has invested several startups in the country, such as edtech companies Byju’s in 2016 and Unacademy in 2020. In July 2019, the company also launched a venture capital brand incubator programme to mentor upcoming small and medium businesses.