Apple and Facebook have picked up a new battleground where they want to dominate the Indian market — digital payments.
“Both firms have made several applications for patents pertaining to digital payments in the country.”
Apple is especially inclined towards capturing the digital payments market in India. The report from Business Standard continues —
“Apple has submitted at least five applications with the Indian Patent Office over the past one year for innovations related to digital payments as it looks at services as a way to boost sales of its iPhones in India.”
Of course, Facebook is going to put up a huge fight. It has already lost a big battle of net neutrality in India, and Mark Zuckerberg isn’t going to take it lying low! Just last week, they filed for a patent of their own, for a digital payments solution that will integrate with its Messenger app. And presumably, in the near future, even with WhatsApp!
Meanwhile, Apple’s patents cover a wide range of services. One of them deals with secure payment technology for Point-of-Sale transactions, while a couple of them are for biometric security and authentication of payments.
Clearly, Apple is gearing up to bring Apple Pay to India. Which is not surprising, given that Google and Samsung are both pushing to bring their own digital payment solutions to our shores. Apple Pay, by the way, is one of the top features for Apple in the West that are not available in India.
The legal problem of patents in India
Technically, India doesn’t allow for patenting software applications.
“The law in India clearly states that software is intrinsically not patentable. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Patents had very clearly said that software as such is not intended to be granted patents.”
So it’s not sure if Apple and Facebook will even get these patents. And if they do, we don’t know what it’ll mean for other Indian startups that also deal with digital payments. Business Insider observes —
“If Apple and Facebook’s patent applications are granted, it could hurt homegrown digital payments firms such as Paytm, Mobikwik, Freecharge and several others.”
So for us, it’s a double-edged sword. While we do want Apple Pay (and other digital payment solutions) to come to India, we certainly don’t want them to come at the cost of our homegrown companies! It’s also not a problem that’s going to be resolved easily or anytime soon.
Nor should it be.
The Indian government should take its time and make the best decision that can accommodate the interests of both parties, foreign and Indian, while also ensuring that the customer gets the best technology has to offer. Obviously, it’s easier said than done!