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‘There Is Explosive Energy Across Digital In India’ David Fischer, Chief Revenue Officer, Facebook

The digital disruption in Indiahas unleashed explosive energy, creatinginnovative new enterprises in everything from entertainment to healthcare and education. India has begun setting digital trends thatthe rest ofthe world follows, states David Fischer, Chief Revenue Officer, Facebook in this interview with BW Businessworld

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India has always been an important country for Face- book. Over the years, we have invested in India to connect people and help businesses launch and grow. As one of the largest countries in the world, it is home to thriving communities on Facebook and WhatsApp, and Instagram is growing ata fast pace. India is also in the midst of a dramatic socioeconomic transformation, driven in no small part by the rapid adoption of digital technologies. There are about 800 million unique mobile users and more than 500 million people with access to the internet. And it is estimated that nearly 915 million Indians will be on the internet by 2026. That disruption has unleashed explosive energy across the digital sector, creating innovative new enterprises in everything from entertainment to healthcare and education. Indeed, India has begun set- ting digital trends that the rest of the world then follows. Our goal has always been to advance India’s social and economic growth, while creating meaningful impact. As a starting point to that commitment, we made a fundamental change to the structure of our India organisation. That change enabled more local accountability and faster decision making. Our recent investment in Jio Platforms is another example of our commitment to India.

Facebook has done well in India for a while. Arguably, ever since the operations began. What has been the in- cremental growth and output in India due to this ‘unique approach’ that you have taken?

We are placing truly unique bets here, taking an India- first approach to many of our company’s most exciting ventures. India is the only country where we have made minority investments to foster digital innovation. You can see this in our partnerships with Meesho and Unacademy, apart from our collaboration with Jio Platforms. We see these as unique opportunities to create long-term impact, and open new doors in fueling India’s economic growth and the prosperity of its people.

Additionally, there are several interesting models emerging out of India that have the potential to scale glob- ally. Just recently, we announced India as the test market for Reels on Instagram, a new format for creating and dis- covering short-form video content. We  are running apilot on WhatsApp Pay to help move India’s cash-based buyers and sellers to trusted digital payments. And we are begin- ning pilots on micro lending and micro insurance with WhatsApp. We are also closely collaborating with India’s media partners to develop offerings that cater to the needs of people here. From our entertainment partnerships with IIFA and Filmfare, to best-in-class sporting experiences through our associations with ICC – the Facebook India team is constantly upping the bar on creating new, engaging experiences for people in the country.

The Facebook-Jio deal was India’s largest tech foreign direct investment. Please explain more on why Jio?

The investment in Jio is evidence of our deep belief in In- dia, and our excitement for the dramatic transformation that Jio has spurred in the country. Our companies share a vision to fuel innovation and unlock new opportunities for people to connect. India has known two worlds that are starkly separate from each other — one world of the digi- tally savvy shoppers of online marketplaces, ride shares and food ordering. And another, much larger world, of people shopping in small kirana shops who do not have access to the sophisticated banking system. Through this partnership, we believe that we have an opportunity to bridge these two worlds, and benefit the entire digital ecosystem of the country in the process.

Our goal with this investment is to enable new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses across India. They account for the majority of jobs in the country, and form the heart and soul of rural and urban communities alike. In the immediate future, we see an opportunity to integrate WhatsApp with Jio Mart, allowing people to browse the availability of shops, get answers from a business, and ultimately purchase a product right from WhatsApp chat.

What will be the key metrics for you to gauge a year from now whether the Jio investment, and relationship, is on track in terms of your expectations?

Like everything we do in India, we are keeping a long- term view of our collaboration with Jio Platforms. And our vision is big. We believe that this partnership has the potential to positively impact more than 60 million micro, small and medium businesses. Not to mention the 120 million farmers and other small businesses in India that may currently be operating in the unorganised sector.

While we are beginning with WhatsApp and JioMart, both companies will continue to explore other opportunities that have the potential to create long-term impact for people and businesses. We know that India will be one of the leading countries driving the next wave of innovation and growth globally — and we are looking forward to see- ing how we can bring more people and businesses online, and give them access to digital tools that have the power to transform their lives.