Facebook bought a Reliance Jio’s 9.99% stake, India’s largest operator, an operation in which the Zuckerberg company has invested $ 5.7 billion. In absolute terms, this is the company’s second investment, only remaining behind the $ 19,000 million it bought for WhatsApp in 2014. With this purchase, Facebook becomes the company’s largest Indian minority shareholder.
Reliance Jio is an Indian mobile operator which is part of Reliance Industries, whose CEO is none other than Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $ 59.9 billion. Reliance Industries is a conglomerate with companies in the energy, petrochemical, textile, natural resources, trade and telecommunications sectors, being Reliance Jio its spearhead in this sector with 388 million customers.
The goal, according to Facebook, “is to open up new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but most importantly for over 60 million small businesses across India.” Through this collaboration, Facebook and Jio seek to “create new ways for people and businesses to operate more efficiently in the growing digital economy”, which results, for example, in the configuration WhatsApp as a communication channel between companies and users via JioMart, an electronic commerce platform.
India, an important market for Facebook
And it is that India is a very important country for Facebook, to the point that there are only 350 million users on Facebook and 400 million users on WhatsApp. Consequently, and by number of users, India is the biggest WhatsApp market. Joining this platform with Jio, which is the largest operator in India, could be a real boost for Facebook’s messaging platform.
And did Jio start operating in mid-2016 with a very aggressive pricing strategy, giving users voice and data calls for six months. Vodafone and Airtel, as they explain on TechCrunch, had to revise their pricing plans to continue to compete, but matching Jio’s prices is no easy task. For example, Jio offers 84 GB and unlimited calling for 399 rupees (4.79 euros in exchange), while the more similar plan from Vodafone India offers 40 GB for the same price.
Mukesh Ambani, PDG de Reliance Industries
However, perhaps one of the most interesting points is the fact that Mukehs Ambani, CEO of Reliance Industries, is very close to Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, whom he has repeatedly supported. As Ambani explained in a video, “the synergy between Jio and Facebook will help to carry out the mission” Digital India “of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi with its two ambitious goals:” Ease of life “and” Ease of doing business “, for every category of Indian without exception. ”
How? ‘Or’ What? ‘Or what? For example, to facilitate the expansion of the WhatsApp payment system in India. This system has been trying to expand for two years, but has not yet succeeded. There has been some privacy controversy and it requires approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Reserve Bank of India to operate. In fact, Ambani claims that JioMart (its trading platform) and WhatsApp will allow 30 million neighborhood stores perform digital transactions in the near future.
On the other hand, some experts like Neil Shah, associate director of Counterpoint Research, have expressed concern about privacy. He says “it’s not clear how much user data Facebook can access to improve its ‘social graph'” and says India’s electronics and information technology ministry should review the deal. He further believes that “Facebook has an eye not only on Jio’s 388 million customers and their data, but on how to use Jio’s broadband initiatives to consolidate their own ad platforms in SMBs.”