tech

Reliance Industries, Facebook mull over WeChat-like super-app for India: Report

The super-apps come with multiple solutions such as digital payments, gaming, and messaging.

Facebook is reportedly planning to acquire stake in Reliance Jio
Facebook is reportedly planning to acquire stake in Reliance Jio (REUTERS)

Reliance Industries and Facebook are planning to develop a super-app that allows users to do more things than simply basic communications, reports Economic Times.

According to the report, the super-app will be on the lines of WeChat in China and will leverage Facebook's WhatsApp, which also happens to be the most popular instant messaging app in the country. The multipurpose app will also allow users to buy products via Reliance's retail stores or ajio.com, book hotels, and gaming, and more. The report reveals Morgan Stanley has been brought in as the investment banker for the project.

"This is going to be a defining partnership, and it's not just a financial investment. The deal is about creating value and a business that would differentiate both Facebook and Reliance," a person privy to the matter told the Economic Times.

The website added that there's no clarity on the final structure and could be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

China's WeChat is quite popular in the Asian markets. Launched in 2011, the Tencent-backed app evolved as super-app to provide more facilities to its users than basic messaging. The app has over 1 billion monthly active users. In India, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app. Over the years, Facebook has expanded the messaging app to businesses and is also working to bring peer-to-peer payment solutions.

As far as super-app goes, Hike experimented with the concept before announcing unbundling the different sections. "In our business the user experience is key and the value isn't just in the number of users but how engaged they are on our platforms," Hike founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal told Quartz last year. "Unbundling Hike into multiple apps focused on doing one thing allows us more room in the pixels to deliver much more around one problem."

That said, Reliance Industries and Facebook may be working on more partnerships. Last month, Financial Times reported that Facebook is looking to invest in Reliance Industries' subsidiary Reliance Jio. According to the report, Facebook is in talks to acquire 10% stake in Jio which is estimated to be "multi-billion dollars."

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