Google is ramping up its ties to India with a $10 billion investment in the country’s technology buildout. The move is part of Big Tech’s focus on the subcontinent, particularly the mobile payments market.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who was born in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, made the announcement in India. He said Google would use the “India Digitization Fund over the next five to seven years. We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy.”
The Big Tech focus on India comes at a time when the country is seen as the hottest market on the planet in the coming years. Only about half of its 1.3 billion people are currently online. At the same time, the country has gone through lockdown due to the pandemic.
“When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else,” said Pichai. “Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology to come to [them]. A whole new generation of technologies is happening in India first.”
Pichai added that “one of the most exciting success stories has been the digitization of small businesses. Just four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence. Today, 26 million SMBs are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month. What’s more, small merchants across the country are now equipped to accept digital payments.”
He continued that “this has made it possible for more small businesses to become part of the formal economy, and it improves their access to credit.”
Other tech titans are investing in India as well. That includes Facebook, which spent $5.7 billion for a 10 percent stake in Jio Platforms, a Reliance Industries subsidiary.