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Asia’s richest man says he ‘believes’ in blockchain technology

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Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of the Reliance Industries, center left, and his wife Nita Ambani arrive for the company’s annual general meeting in Mumbai, India, on Aug. 12, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest person, said he sees the benefits of the blockchain technology and expects India to soon have one of the world’s most-advanced digital infrastructures — a tool that can generate equitable prosperity across the society.

“Blockchain is the technology I believe in and it is different from crypto,” Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries said at a forum Friday, organized by India’s International Financial Services Centres Authority and Bloomberg. He added that digital technologies will reinvent sectors from financial services to manufacturing, agriculture to education and health care, making them more affordable and more accessible to all Indians.

“Digital technology, I believe, is a great leveler, a great democratizer,” he said, adding that data was the new oil but with a vital difference. “The new oil, i.e. data, can be generated and consumed everywhere and by everybody. It has the potential to create value equitably across sectors, geographies, and economic classes.”

The $210 billion retail-to-refining conglomerate, under Ambani’s leadership, has been pivoting toward digital services as it aspires to be a technology titan and reduce reliance on its fossil fuel-based businesses. Reliance’s digital unit raised $27 billion last year through stake sales to marquee global firms including Google and Meta.

The tycoon spotlighted two things that’ll bolster the digital revolution underway in the country: its massive population of young people and the deep penetration of the digital pipeline into all Indian cities and almost of the 600,000 villages.

“India will make great strides in fintech, education technology, health technology, and industry” through digital services, Ambani said.

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