Reliance Jio and Facebook will look to use WhatsApp for delivering goods from local neighbourhood kirana stores to consumers before expanding collaboration in education and healthcare sector, billionaire Mukesh Ambani said soon after announcing the mega Rs 43,574 -crore deal.
"All of us at Reliance and Jio are delighted to welcome Facebook Inc," he said in a short video message posted on the group's social media handles.
Earlier in the day, Facebook announced an investment of USD 5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore) to buy a 9.99 per cent stake in the firm that houses Ambani's telecom arm Jio as the social media giant looks to expand presence in its largest market in terms of subscriber base.
"The combined power of Jio's world-class digital connectivity platform and Facebook's intimate relationship with the Indian people will offer innovative new solutions to each one of you," Ambani said.
"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 said.
While the Facebook deal is part of value unlocking by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to cut debt, Facebook will get 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.
"And in the days to come, this winning recipe to serve other key stakeholders of Indian society. Our kisans (farmers), our small and medium enterprises, our students and teachers, our healthcare providers and above our women and youth who formed the foundation of a new India," Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL, said.
He said at the core of the Jio-Facebook partnership is the commitment that Mark Zukerberg, founder of Facebook and he share for the all-round digital transformation of India for serving all Indians.
"Together, our two companies will accelerate India's digital economy to empower you, to enable you and to enrich you. Our partnership will be a great catalyst to make India the world's leading digital society," he said.
Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram have become household names in India over the last few years.
"WhatsApp, in particular, has entered our people's daily vocabulary in all the 23 official languages of India. WhatsApp is not just a digital application. It has become aapka aur hum sabka, pyara dost. A friend who brings together families, friends, businesses, information-seekers and providers," he said.