Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc., hopes the social media giant and Reliance Industries Ltd. can together transform India’s digital payments landscape, replicating the latter’s success in revolutionizing the telecommunications industry.
Zuckerberg in an online event mentioned Dhirubhai Ambani, the late founder of Reliance, who said he envisioned cheap phone calls to India as postcards, priced under a cent. His son Mukesh Ambani’s ability to fulfill that wish inspired him, Zuckerberg said.
“This is what we have been trying to do with messaging … and hopefully we can do it alongside payments,” Zuckerberg told Ambani at the event.
The telecom unit led by Ambani, Asia’s richest man, shocked the industry in 2016 when it came in with free calls and low-cost data rates, forcing rivals to close, merge, or go bankrupt while it’s became the country’s leading wireless operator over time. Ambani and Zuckerberg are now betting heavily on India as its more than one billion consumers are passionate about their smartphones and increasingly rely on it for everything from entertainment and grocery shopping to online money transfers.
Raking in wins
The American social media firm invested $ 5.7 billion in a 9.99 percent stake in Ambani’s digital venture in April, sparking a flurry of more share sales. It also finally got approval to launch in November this year to run its WhatsApp payments service in India after struggling for years to get a permit.
Ambani predicts that the Indian economy will climb the charts and per capita income by more than double, up to $ 5,000, as the country transforms into a digital powerhouse.
“I firmly believe that in the next two decades India will grow to be among the top three economies in the world,” Ambani said at the same event. “But more importantly, it will become a world-class digital company.”
For Facebook, there is no more capable partner than Ambani’s retail refining conglomerate to help dominate this nascent but growing market.
“A big part of why I was excited to partner with you is that there aren’t many people around the world who have just moved from industry to industry and revolutionized and improved them, and continue to do so,” he said. Zuckerberg in Ambani.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is posted by a syndicated feed.)