Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc., hopes that social media giant and Reliance Industries Ltd. can jointly transform the digital payment landscape in India, replicating the latter’s success in disrupting the telecommunications sector.
Zuckerberg, in an online event, mentioned Dhirubhai Ambani, the late founder of Reliance, about whom he said he imagined phone calls in India as cheap as postcards, at a price of less than a cent. His son Mukesh Ambani’s ability to fulfill this desire inspired him, Zuckerberg said.
“That’s what we tried to do with messaging … and we hope we can do that with the payments,” Zuckerberg told Ambani during the event.
The telecommunications unit led by Ambani, the richest man in Asia, disrupted the sector in 2016, when it entered with free calls and cheap data rates, forcing rivals to give up, merge or go bankrupt, while becoming the most large wireless operator of the country over time. Ambani and Zuckerberg are now betting on India, as its billions of consumers connect to and rely on their smartphones, from entertainment and food purchases to online money transfers.
Rake Up wins
The American social media company invested 5.7 billion dollars for a 9.99% stake in Ambani’s digital capital in April, triggering a series of other share sales. It has also finally been approved to launch in November this year to operate its WhatsApp payment service in India, after years of struggling to win a license.
Ambani expects India’s economy to increase league tables and per capita income more than twice to $ 5,000 as the country turns into a digital powerhouse.
“I strongly believe that in the next two decades, India will grow among the top three economies in the world,” Ambani said at the same event. “But more importantly, it will become a leading digital society.”
For Facebook, there is no partner more capable than Ambani’s refining-retail conglomerate to help dominate this nascent but growing market.
“A big part of why I was thrilled to work with you is that there aren’t many people around the world who have just left industry after industry, revolutionized and improved them, and continue to do so,” he said. Zuckerberg told Ambani.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is published in a syndicated stream.)