US-based internet giant Facebook has signed a binding agreement to purchase a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, the digital services subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) through which the group owns 4G mobile provider Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio). In a statement from RIL, the Indian group explained that Facebook would invest INR435.74 billion (USD5.7 billion) in Jio Platforms for the stake – valuing the company at INR4.62 trillion – which it claimed represents the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company in the world, as well as the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in India’s technology sector. Through the partnership, RIL said it would aim to provide new opportunities for businesses of all sizes but it would focus mainly on small businesses and, to that end, it would look to ‘create new and exciting digital ecosystems that empower, enrich and uplift the lives of all 1.3 billion Indians’. Jio Platforms will focus on the country’s 60 million micro, small and medium businesses, as well as its 30 million small merchants, 120 million farmers and millions of SMEs in the informal sector.
Alongside its tie-up with Facebook, RIL announced that Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and messaging service WhatsApp have entered into a commercial partnership agreement to ‘accelerate Reliance Retail’s New Commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp’. According to RIL, JioMart is being built ‘in partnership with millions of small merchants and kirana shops to empower them to better serve the needs of Indian consumers’. The new commerce platform aims to ensure that customers can access the nearest shops that can provide products and services to their homes, and complete transactions through JioMart and WhatsApp.