In sharp contrast to other Indian startups aggressively focusing almost entirely on discounts and the heavily misused term – customer acquisition, Freecharge filed a patent for its brand new technology supposedly superior to the OTP, which is used by most mobile apps. As much as it is a welcome sign for Indian startups as far as innovation is concerned, it is also a warning signal of all the lost potential. The Economic times rightfully called it a wake up call for other companies.
Freecharge, now owned by Snapdeal is known for its mobile recharge, DTH and other bill payment services. The company which already competes with Paytm on these services, has also been aggressively trying to grab a bigger slice of the mobile wallets pie. Both companies compete heavily in terms of mobile recharge offers and discounts with Freecharge coupons consistently flooding coupon and deal aggregation sites.
On The Go Pin
Freecharge filed a patent for an authentication solution they’ve decided to call On-The-Go Pin aimed at both online and offline transactions. While the solution isn’t yet introduced to the public, it does hold tremendous potential for Freecharge and Snapdeal to offer more convenience and value to their customers. But this also might help Freecharge monetize their innovation through patent licensing much like how Amazon did with their patent for 1-click ordering, which is licensed to the likes of Apple and Barnes & Noble.
More Patents Please
Indian startups have not filed too many patents so far, and that is not good. Less patents directly implies a lack of innovation. In order to achieve their ambitions to eventually grow to a global market, Indian startups need to innovate with focus on creating more value to customers, users and building efficient systems through technology innovation. It is also imperative that these companies evolve with the abundance of tech talent that they possess.
The Way Forward
The way forward may however, be interesting to follow especially considering the fierce competition. You wouldn’t be wrong to think that the likes of Paytm watch every move their competition makes. The need for innovation may get the much needed push through these competitive conditions. If that does happen, and if innovation does turn into a trend like multimillion startups did lately, Indians should be able to celebrate a truly world-class startup ecosystem.
Karthik works in content strategy at GrabOn and also guest posts on technology and business related blogs from time to time.