Mukesh Ambani, one of the richest men in the world residing in the financial capital of India, is ready to explore the Web3 arena. The 66-year-old Indian billionaire announced his Web3-related plans during Reliance Industries’ (RIL) 46th annual general meeting, held on Monday. While the Reliance boss wants to keep his distance from high-volatile crypto assets for now, he plans to explore the blockchain and centralized digital currency space — including the eRupee CBDC — which is currently in advanced testing in India.
Ambani’s Jio Financial Services (JFS) will be the brand’s entry point into the Web3 sector. JFS is the financial investments arm of Reliance Industries, originally called Reliance Strategic Investments, which was renamed in July this year. Through JFS, RIL will provide digital asset management services. As part of its plan, JFS has already partnered with BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment services providers, which held $100.07 billion in assets as of August 18.
“JFS will consolidate its payments infrastructure and continue to drive digital adoption in India. JFS products will explore breakthrough features like blockchain-based platforms and CBDC,” Ambani stated Monday.
Blockchain is the underlying distributed ledger technology that provides the foundational support for all elements of Web3, including cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens, CBDCs, and the metaverse. Blockchain-based protocols can be automated and decentralized, which could eliminate the need for a middleman or intermediary to facilitate financial transactions.
Additionally, the information stored on the blockchain is broken up into small packets and distributed across the network, making it more resilient to malicious modifications and security breaches compared to traditional servers.
States like Maharashtra and Telangana are already harnessing the power of blockchain to streamline their health and agriculture initiatives.
A central bank digital currency, or CBDC, is the virtual representation of any fiat currency backed by blockchain networks. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is also working on introducing its own CBDC in India.
CBDCs work like cryptocurrencies, but are regulated and issued by central banks. CBDCs not only simplify online payment systems, but also reduce reliance on cash, which could be cost-effective for RBI.
India’s CBDC called eRupee is already in the advanced testing phase, which will include selected small, medium and large merchants as well as several large government and private lenders.
The Reliance connection
Businesses owned and operated by Ambani’s RIL include Jio’s network services, convenience stores, and gas pumps, among others. RIL’s foray into blockchain and eRupee could see many Indians engage with these new-age technologies in the coming months.
In April of this year, Reliance General Insurance announced that it had started accepting eRupee CBDC for premium payments.
Earlier in February, Reliance Retail had also announced that it would start using India’s digital rupee CBDC in its Mumbai stores. At the time, V Subramaniam, the managing director of Reliance Retail, said he believed the CBDC was “better than the UPI system.”