WhatsApp and Reliance get closer in India

WhatsApp and Reliance get closer in India

There’s been adverse publicity about its planned privacy update, notably in the vast Indian market, but this week there’s been better news for WhatsApp in India with the announcement that Reliance Industries plans to embed its ecommerce app JioMart into WhatsApp within the next six months.

According to Indian press reports, the move will allow hundreds of millions of users to order products from Reliance without having to leave the app.

This will also be a useful boost for the Reliance retail and grocery business, which was launched in May last year with plans to be operational across 200 cities in India. This e-commerce venture offers free express grocery delivery from local stores.

This continues the trend of positive news for Reliance, which last year raised about $26 billion from investors – including WhatsApp owner Facebook, which acquired a 9.99 percent stake in its digital unit for $5.7 billion. In fact this was said at the time to be Facebook’s largest deal since its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, and its biggest overseas investment.

The JioMart agreement may be a timely move for both parties. As we reported in May last year, payment habits in India have changed during the pandemic, and digital payments are surging.

As for the WhatsApp privacy update, this has already met with a couple of legal challenges in India after WhatsApp said in early January that it reserved the right to share some data – including users’ locations and phone numbers – with Facebook and its units such as Instagram and Messenger. More importantly perhaps, many Indian users have begun installing rival apps such as Signal and Telegram.

WhatsApp has now said that it is postponing the controversial update of its terms and conditions from the original date of 8 February until 15 May. At the last count, WhatsApp had about 400 million users in India.

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