Facebook, Jio tie-up will bring 25 million SMEs online: Ajit Mohan

Our excitement is with connecting the dots between WhatsApp and Jio with the objective of helping millions of Kirana owners to digitise their product catalogues, said Ajit Mohan, Vice-president and MD, Facebook India
Reliance Industries-backed Jio Mart and Facebook, through its instant messaging platform  WhatsApp, will target to bring 20-25 million small businesses online in the near future. 

“Our excitement is with connecting the dots between WhatsApp and Jio with the objective of helping millions of kirana owners to digitise their product catalogues,” said Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India, at an event organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). 

According to Mohan, the Covid-19 pandemic has crunched a few years of consumer behaviour change into a few months and weeks. The move will fundamentally change the consumer behaviour in India and enable the agenda to shift a large chunk of consumers to digital payments from physical cash.

In April this year, Facebook acquired a 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms. 

A fully-owned subsidiary of Reliance, Jio Platforms houses many digital platforms like JioSaavn and Radisys, besides the biggest disruptor in the Indian telecom market, Jio. 

Mohan cited a recent Boston Consulting Group-Facebook consumer behaviour study that showed digitally-influenced purchases gone up by 15-20 per cent for most big consumer goods brands who sell apparels, mobile phones and packaged goods which have had ‘deep’ offline networks traditionally. “Video and virtual experiences will be at the heart of buying in the upcoming festive season,” he added.

Also, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp’s voice and video calling volumes have doubled across the country, while the live broadcast from Facebook pages has tripled in June 2020, compared to the same period last year. Facebook's launch of Instagram’s Reels and enabling wider participation on WhatsApp video calls in the past few weeks is reflective of its response to users’ changing consumer behaviour, Mohan said.

This was the Facebook India MD’s first public appearance after the tech giant was embroiled in a controversy of overlooking its hate speech policies earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal article had earlier alleged Facebook of turning a blind eye to a hateful post made by a BJP leader in order to safeguard the social media platform’s business prospects in India. 

“We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form. The (content) policies are enforced globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural belief,” Mohan said in a blogpost last week.

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