Mukesh Ambani, one of the world’s richest men settled in India’s financial capital, is prepared to explore the Web3 arena. The 66-year-old Indian billionaire disclosed his Web3-related plans during the 46th annual general meeting of Reliance Industries (RIL) that was held on Monday. While the Reliance chief aims to keep a distance from highly volatile crypto assets for now, he does plan to explore the fields of blockchain and centralised digital currencies — including the eRupee CBDC — which is currently in advanced trials in India.
Ambani’s Jio Financial Services (JFS) will be the brand’s point of entry into the Web3 sector. JFS is the financial investment arm of Reliance Industries that was initially named Reliance Strategic Investments and was rebranded in July this year. Through JFS, RIL will offer management services for digital assets. As part of its plan, JFS has already struck a partnership with BlackRock, which is among world’s largest investment services provider that held assets worth $100.07 billion as of August 18.
“JFS will consolidate its payment infrastructure further driving digital adoption for India. JFS products will explore pathbreaking features such as blockchain-based platforms and CBDC,” Ambani stated on Monday.
Blockchain is the underlaying distributed ledger technology, that provides the foundational support for all the elements of Web3 including cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens, CBDCs, as well as the metaverse. Blockchain-based protocols can be automated and decentralised, which could eliminate the need for any middleman or intermediary to facilitate financial transactions.
In addition, information stored on the blockchain is divided into small packages and spread across the network, which makes it more resistant to malicious changes and breaches as opposed to traditional servers.
A central bank digital currency or CBDC, is the virtual representation of any fiat currency, supported on blockchain networks. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is also working on introducing its own CBDC in India.
CBDCs function like cryptocurrencies, but they are regularised and issued by the central banks. CBDCs not only smoothen online payment systems, but also reduce dependency on cash notes that could be cost efficient for the RBI.
India’s CBDC called the eRupee is already in its advanced trial stages with multiple large state-owned and private lenders participating in these trials alongside select small, medium, and big level merchants.
The Reliance connection
The businesses owned and run under Ambani’s RIL includes Jio’s network services, general stores, and petrol pumps among others. RIL’s foray into blockchain and eRupee could have many Indians engage with these new-age technologies in the months to come.
In April this year, Reliance General Insurance said it had begun accepting the eRupee CBDC for premium payments.
Earlier in February, Reliance Retail had also announced that it would begin using India’s digital rupee CBDC across its stores in Mumbai. At the time, V Subramaniam, the managing director at Reliance Retail said he believed that the CBDC would be “better than the UPI system”.