The agreement will help the Indian group – which is controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani – to reduce the debts that have accumulated after paying large sums to secure the lead for the communications business, Jio Infocomm.
Geo Infocom has become the country’s largest wireless operator within nearly three years of its launch, while Mumbai-based Reliance has expanded its retail business rapidly, and now has more than 10,000 grocery, electronics and clothing stores.
Geo Infocom said – in a statement on Wednesday – that the Facebook investment will make it the largest shareholder in its digital platform, making the company’s value about $ 66 billion.
WhatsApp is trying to get approval for the launch of the digital payment service in India, which will make it foothold in a crowded market, to compete with Google Paymt. A Facebook spokesman said approval for the expansion after the beta release had not yet come.
The most popular messaging service is used by 400 million users in India, which is its largest market, reaching nearly 80% of smartphone users in the country. The deal will also help the social media giant, taking advantage of WhatsApp, to partner with the e-commerce market, Jio mart, that links small businesses and customers.
“India is in the midst of a great digital transformation, and organizations like Geo have played a huge role in connecting hundreds of millions of Indians and small businesses over the Internet,” said Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Last month, the Financial Times reported that Facebook was in talks to buy a 10% stake in Geo, but the talks were suspended due to the global travel ban because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.