“All the products and technology that we’re building to enable that partnership (with Jio) are going to be things that we want to do around the world. So, we’re excited about working with them to drive this vision forward and then extending it everywhere over the coming months and years,” Zuckerberg said during an investor call.
He added that the company’s strong balance sheet proved to be an “important asset” this quarter, enabling it to commit to a “long-term growth priority in India even in the midst of a troubled global economy”.
Zuckerberg pointed out that Facebook and WhatsApp has the largest user base in India.
“We think that there is an especially important opportunity to serve small businesses and enable commerce there over the long term. By bringing together JioMart, which is Jio’s small business initiative to connect millions of shops across India with WhatsApp, we think that we’re going to create a much better shopping and commerce experience,” he said.
Zuckerberg said the focus is on helping small businesses have a presence on all of the apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger — so that they can communicate organically with people and then, increasingly do things that can help them drive transactions.
“There are millions of small businesses and shops across India, and they (JioMart) want to try to help get them on to a single network that you’ll be able to communicate with through WhatsApp and do payments online through WhatsApp. So, I think that is a great, very large example of how we can wire up and help small businesses in the country where we have the largest WhatsApp community,” he said.
Soon after announcing the deal with Facebook, billionaire Mukesh Ambani had said Reliance Jio and the social networking giant will look to use WhatsApp for delivering goods from local neighborhood Kirana stores to consumers before expanding collaboration in education and healthcare sector.
“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 had said.
While the deal is part of value unlocking by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to cut debt, Facebook gets deeper access to India, the second-largest internet market after China.
Facebook already has over 400 million WhatsApp users in India and is looking to launch a payment offering. Having a local partner could help it in navigating various regulatory issues, including those related to privacy and local storage.
Facebook, which registered an 18 percent rise in revenue to about $17.7 billion at the end of the March 2020 quarter, saw daily active users (DAUs) increase by 11 percent year-over-year to 1.73 billion. Its monthly active users (MAUs) were up 10 percent y-o-y to 2.60 billion at the end of March.