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Jio crosses 50 million users in three months

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani extended freebies for new and existing subscribers till March 31, 2017; and announces a major digital payments initiative under Jio Money

Published: Dec 1, 2016 02:56:00 PM IST
Updated: Dec 1, 2016 06:51:56 PM IST

Jio crosses 50 million users in three months
Enthused at crossing the milestone of 50 million subscribers in the first three month of operations, Jio, the new-age telecom and digital services arm of oil-to-yarn and retail conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), announced the extension of its free services offer till March 31, 2017.

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Thursday that new customers coming on board the Jio network post December 4, 2016, will be a part of the Jio Happy New Year Plan, through which they can avail voice, data and content services free till the end of March 2017. The new scheme, aimed at attractive new customers who haven’t experienced Jio yet, will also be extended to existing Jio users who came on board as part of the Jio Welcome Offer, which ends on December 1.

Ambani said Jio was now the world’s fastest growing technology company “in the history of the world”, growing at a clip faster than what Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype achieved. “In 83 days, Jio has crossed 50 million customers across 28 states of India on its network,” Ambani said and hoped that millions more will come on board in the days to come.

Ambani also reiterated that Jio hadn’t received the adequate support that it needed to offer seamless voice services to subscribers from incumbent telecom operators with respect to points of interconnection (PoI) on their respective networks. He stated that in the last three months, nearly 900 crore voice calls from the Jio network to that of the three largest telcos in India – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular – had been blocked, as a result of what Ambani called “anti-competitive behaviour.” Government agencies have intervened in the matter and asked telcos to offer more PoIs to Jio, which Ambani said has helped bring down the call-block rate to 20 percent, from 90 percent when Jio began services.    

The RIL chairman, who is India’s richest man, also announced a major initiative – under the Jio Money brand – in the area of digital payments. This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan of creating a digital economy that uses cash optimally and minimally, following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which account for over 80 percent of the liquid money floating in the economy.

With Jio Money, every Indian can have access to a digital wallet linked to their bank account, Ambani said. These wallets can be used as the location of millions of merchants spread across India who will be enabled with Aadhaar-based micro ATMs to dispense cash. Ambani also said Jio was trying to build a “digital retail ecosystem”. In this ecosystem, users can make a variety of payments – either to other people, or for services like meals in restaurants, and tickets at bus stops and railway stations. But Jio’s plan isn’t to remain solely in the business-to-consumer space.

Jio plans to come up with something known as Jio Money Merchant Solution – whereby financial transactions can be made across the supply chain in the economy – right from retailers to wholesalers and other suppliers – using the Jio Money app.

“Starting December 5, every merchant can download the Jio Money Merchant Application. Customers use their Jio Money wallets to pay merchants from their bank accounts, and merchants use the app to accept these payments directly into their bank accounts,” Ambani explained. “Using this app, merchants can also make supplier payments, transfer money between own bank accounts and use digital petty cash.”

Jio Money targets signing up over 10 million small merchant retailers in the coming weeks across 17,000 towns and 4 lakh villages where it is present, Ambani said.

Ambani lauded Modi’s decision to drive India towards a digital economy, calling it an important step that will help create a “fair, just, transparent and strong India and Indian economy, which will help bring in accountability at every level”. “With one single step, he (Modi) has brought all the unproductive money into productive use,” Ambani said.
(Reliance Industries is the owner of Network 18, publishers of Forbes India)

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