Huge opportunity in India to buy and sell through WhatsApp: Zuckerberg

Huge opportunity in India to buy and sell through WhatsApp: Zuckerberg

NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that there’s a huge opportunity to enable small businesses and individuals in India to buy and sell things through its messaging platform WhatsApp.

“We want to enable that,” said Zuckerberg, during a Q2 earnings call. “That starts with enabling payments.”

He said a big part of the partnership that Facebook has with telecom network Jio will be to wire up and get thousands of small businesses across India on-boarded onto WhatsApp, to do commerce in India. India is the biggest market for WhatsApp, with more than 400 million users, according to industry sources.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity there (India),” said Zuckerberg. “And once we prove that out with Jio in India, we’re planning on expanding it to more folks in India and to other countries as well. But, there’s no doubt that India is a huge opportunity.”

Jio Platforms, the digital arm of Reliance Industries (RIL) and which includes Jio and e-commerce venture JioMart, has raised $20 billion in three months from investors such as Facebook, Google, Silver Lake and KKR. This includes $5.7 billion invested by Facebook in April.

This month JioMart, Reliance Retail’s beta online consumer grocery platform, debuted its JioMart app on Google Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store.

JioMart is taking on rivals such as Walmart-backed Flipkart and Amazon which are also rapidly bringing kiranas and local shops onto their platforms. Only 7 per cent of the $1.2-trillion retail market is online, and these players are aggressively eyeing the remaining 93 per cent.

During the earnings call, Zuckerberg said India is the largest country by the size of the community that the company is already serving. He said India should be one of the fastest-growing business opportunities as well to help businesses grow there, and “we’re very excited about that.”

When asked to comment on the efforts with WhatsApp Pay in India and Brazil, Zuckerberg said that the company is working with regulators in these countries.

“We're optimistic that we’ll be able to move forward. Although it’s taking longer than we would ideally like,” said Zuckerberg.

This month, Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp India head, announced plans to foray into lending, micro-insurance and pension products.

Facebook’s rival Google is also foraying into the digital lending space in India which is set to become a $1 trillion opportunity in the next five years, according to the sources. Its digital payments app Google Pay is forming strategic partnerships with fintech firms to offer credit to the consumers, signalling a larger interest to tap the financial services market in the country.

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