Billionaire Mukesh Ambani Sees Digital Economy Helping Double Incomes in India
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani expects India to be among the world’s top three economies in the next 20 years and per capita income of Indians to more than double as the country transforms into a digital powerhouse.
“I firmly believe that in the next two decades, India will grow to be among the top three economies in the world. But more importantly, it will become a premier digital society,” Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd. said Tuesday at an event organized by Facebook Inc. The per capita income will likely rise from about $1,800 currently to $5,000, he said.
Ambani, Asia’s richest man, as well as Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, are betting big on India as its billion-plus consumers get hooked on their smartphones and increasingly rely on it for everything from entertainment and grocery purchases to online money transfers. Facebook invested $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in Ambani’s digital venture in April this year and triggered a flurry of other stake sales in Jio Platforms Ltd.
“A big part of why I was excited to partner with you is, there are not many people around the world who’ve just gone industry after industry and revolutionized them and improved them, and continue to do it,” Zuckerberg said to Ambani during the discussion.
Reliance’s telecom unit disrupted the sector in 2016 when it entered with free calls and dirt-cheap data tariffs, forcing rivals to quit, merge or go bankrupt and overtime becoming the country’s top wireless carrier. He is now looking to aggressively expand his e-commerce operations, as he takes on Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. in a fight over India’s $1 trillion consumption market.
Noting Ambani’s ability to make services available to the masses at very affordable prices, Zuckerberg said “that’s what we’ve tried to do with messaging…and hopefully we can do that together with payments.”
Facebook, after struggling for years to win a permit to operate its WhatsApp payments service in India, finally got approval for the roll-out in November this year.
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