Facebook has sought an Indian patent for its electronic payment system enabled through messaging.
The firm has already filed for the patent at the Chennai Patent Office.
The move comes at a time when Facebook is looking to unveil its electronic payment service in India. It has already filed for patent for the system in the U.S., which is pending approval.
“The present disclosure relates to systems methods and devices that provide a transactional payment system. In particular, the transactional payment system allows users of messaging systems to send and receive electronic payments to and from other users of the messaging system,” Facebook said in its application for the patent.
A messaging application on a client device could receive payment information input (such as a payment amount and payment method) from a sender for making a payment to a recipient, it said.
“The messaging application can send a payment message, including the payment information, to a messaging system and the messaging system co-ordinates a payment process based on the payment information,” Facebook said in its disclosure.
During the payment process, the messaging system could provide status updates to the sender and receiver of the payment via status messages that were included in a message thread corresponding to the sender and the recipient, it added.
Facebook was not available for comment.
Facebook-owned mobile messaging app WhatsApp aparently is preparing to enter India’s booming digital payments industry. A post on its website in April invited applications for role of “Digital Transactions Lead, India.”
“The patent application envisages peer-to-peer payment between users of a messaging application such as WhatsApp. A patent grant to Facebook will enable WhatsApp to monopolise key aspects of the technology that enables peer-to-peer payments using messaging application,” Kartik Puttaiah, InvnTree IP Services, said.
The patent application and WhatsApp digital payment initiative might be the first big bet by Facebook to directly generate revenue from the messaging app since its acquisition, he added.
Prashant Reddy, a research associate at School of Law, Singapore Management University, said that the law on software patents was yet to be settled in India. Mr. Reddy said he would not get too excited over Facebook’s patent filing.
He pointed out that there were as many as 16 published pending patent applications filed by a slew of firms such as Mastercard, Huwaei, among others. There wasn’t a single Indian company, however, he added. “Hopefully, the Patent Office will deliver well reasoned decisions on these applications,” he said.
“Indian Patent Office has received multiple patent applications in this domain due to evolution of digital banking. Even if such patents are granted, it is really difficult to enforce them via court of law considering the dynamic nature of mobile applications and digital banking tools,” Rahul Dev, partner, TechCorp Legal, said.