A "major digital transformation" is coming to a one of fastest developing countries in the world. Facebook is committed to "opening commerce opportunities for people across India", founder Mark Zuckerberg said this morning, a day after the social media powerhouse invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Industries Ltd-owned mobile telecom company Reliance Jio.
Mr Zuckerburg the creator of Facebook, thanked Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani (valued at $47.5 billion) for the partnership and said he was "looking forward to getting started".
The focus of the investment according to Facebook Inc. is to partner messaging across platforms such as WhatsApp and Reliance Industries Limited's e-commerce venture JioMart.
"Facebook is teaming up with Jio Platforms - we're making a financial investment, and more than that, we're committing to work together on some major projects that will open up commerce opportunities for people across India," Mr Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
"India is home to the largest communities on Facebook and WhatsApp, and a lot of talented entrepreneurs. The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation and organisations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indians, small businesses online," he added.
Mr Mukesh Ambani emphasized benefits of the Facebook-Jio venture for the nearly grocerty marts around the corner right across the country that will now be "empowered and can create new employment opportunities with digital technology".
The deal, which makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in Jio, comes after the government approved WhatsApp's digital payment service. The Facebook-owned platform is now set to compete with the likes of Google Pay and Paytm for a market that will be worth $135.3 billion in 2023.
WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, its biggest market, reaching nearly 80 per cent of smartphone users in the country.
In his post Mr Zuckerberg pointed out that small businesses - India has over 60 million of these and a significant majority of these use digital payment services like Paytm and Google Pay - were the core of every economy and millions relied on them for employment.