India’s premier business conglomerate Reliance Industries has struck a deal with Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook, Alphabet Inc-owned Google and global payment solution platform Infibeam. The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries has partnered with the global giants to set up a national digital payment network.
The development comes after last year when the Reserve Bank of India invited companies to create something called ‘New Umbrella Entities’ (NUEs). These NUES will form a digital payment network that would work alongside the state-operated National Payments Council of India (NPCI). The deadline of all interested parties who want to form NUEs and submit applications regarding the same has been extended until March 31.
The National Payments Council of India was established by the Reserve Bank of India and the Indian Bank’s Association in 2008. Since its inception, the NPCI has processed a billion dollars’ worth of payments through its services such as ATM transactions, digital payments and more. According to the PWC India study, the country could see its digital payment sector processing an amount of more than $135.2 billion in 2023.
Earlier there were rumours of other conglomerates to fray into the NUE space. This includes a group led by American e-commerce giant Amazon and ICICI bank, another group is led by the nation’s brick to bus conglomerate Tata group and HDFC bank, and even India’s largest mobile payment platform Paytm forming an alliance with the Indian equivalent of Uber, Ola and Indusland Bank.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries has already partnered with Facebook and Google and these tech giants already have their own stakes in Ambani’s Jio Platforms
In 2020, Reliance Jio and Facebook formed a strategic alliance when Zuckerberg owned Facebook invested a whopping sum of $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in the telecom company. That deal made Facebook the biggest minority shareholder in Jio. Their alliance came after the Indian government approved WhatsApp’s digital payment service which has been competing with Google Pay and Indian operated Paytm for the digital payment market that is going to be worth $135.2 billion by 2023.
Prior to its partnership with Facebook, Reliance Jio had entered into a long-term partnership with another tech giant, Microsoft. The partnership was formed to accelerate India’s digital transformation pace. Under the partnership, the first big transformation came when Microsoft established a number of world-class data centres across India powered by their cloud platform Azure.