India will grow to be among top 3 economies in 2 decades: Ambani

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Zuckerberg calls India very special country, looks to push WhatsApp payments services deeper

At a fireside chat with Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said India’s middle-class, which is about 50 per cent of the nation’s total number of households, will grow three to four per cent per year. “I firmly believe that in the next two decades, India will grow to be among the top three economies in the world,” said Ambani.
 
More importantly, it will become a premier digital society, with young people driving it. “And our per capita income will go from USD 1,800-2,000 per capita to USD 5,000 per capita,” he said. Facebook and a lot of other companies and entrepreneurs in the world have a golden opportunity to be in India, to be part of this economic and social transformation that will accelerate in the coming decades, he added.
 
Zuckerberg said India is a very special and important country with a remarkable entrepreneurship culture, as he sought to push deeper the just-launched payments services that allow users to make payments over WhatsApp. “We just launched WhatsApp payments in India last month — now you can send money to your friends and family through WhatsApp, as easily as sending a message. That was possible because of the UPI system that has been built in India,” Zuckerberg said.
 
He said the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) makes it easy for anyone to instantly accept payments across different apps. Referring to late Dhirubhai Ambani’s vision of affordable connectivity in the country, Zuckerberg said, “… today Indians can communicate with one another for less than the cost of a postcard and that’s what we’ve tried to do with messaging… and hopefully we can do that together with payments and make it so people can use India’s new UPI system, which I think is just great”.
 
In April, Facebook announced an investment of USD 5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore) in Jio Platforms. “I have no hesitation in going on record, that it is your investment that set the ball rolling. Not only for Jio, but for the Indian FDI which has been the largest-ever in its history,” Ambani said. He added that the partnership between Jio and Facebook will “actually demonstrate that it is great for India, Indians, and small Indian businesses”.
 
“And I believe Mark, that our actions will speak louder than our words in the coming months and years,” Ambani said. Ambani stated that technology, with all the digitisation steps that India has taken, will democratise wealth and value creation for individuals and small businesses.
 
Noting that WhatsApp and Jio have hundreds of millions of subscribers in India, Ambani said Jio Mart retail service aspires to “serve tens of millions of small shopkeepers in India, who are the bedrock of employment. This means Jio brings digital connectivity, WhatsApp now with WhatsApp Pay brings digital interactivity, and the ability to move to close transactions and create value, and Jio Mart brings the unmatched online and offline retail opportunity, that gives our small shops which exist in villages and small towns in India, a chance to digitise and be at par with anybody else in the world,” he added.
 
“… we are in the business of serving small businesses and nowhere is this more true than in India. This is especially important because small businesses here will be a key part of the global recovery going forward. And we’re focused on making sure we build the best tools for them,” he added. The company is focussed on ensuring that technology “delivers for everyone” and that was one of the reasons for partnering Indian telecom major Reliance Jio that has “played such a key role in giving hundreds of millions of Indians access to the benefits of the internet” and fostering this entrepreneurial culture, Zuckerberg.

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