Cupertino-based smartphone maker Apple Inc. may soon throw its hat in India's digital payments ring, joining a horde of players looking to tap a market taking small, but definitive, steps towards becoming less-cash.
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice-president of Internet software and services and a member of its executive leadership, told Mint that the company definitely wanted to roll out Apple Pay in India.
"The challenge with payment mechanisms is that there isn’t really a lot of global scale. You deal with individual markets at a time... but India is one of those markets where we hope to bring Apple Pay to," he said. Cue, however, did not not give any specific launch date.
To launch the service in the country, Apple will look to partner established players than build a new payments solution from scratch, Cue clarified.
"You have some great payment mechanisms today and we will leverage all of that... That’s one of the advantages that we have with Apple Pay—it isn’t trying to come up with a brand new payment vehicle, so the fact that people like Paytm are doing well here is great. The fact that credit cards are doing well here is great. We just need to integrate with the popular ones and make the service available," he said.
India's digital payments market has become extremely crowded with a bevy of players—from social networks to messaging apps to cab aggregators to e-tailers—foraying into the space. Messaging app WhatsApp Inc. got approval from the National Payments Corporation of India last month to enable in-app payments via UPI. WhatsApp’s parent Facebook is also looking to enable UPI-enabled payment on its platforms.
Bullish on India
Apple has been showing keen interest in India's smartphone market after sales in China, once a major growth driver, slid 14% year-on-year to $10.7 billion in the January-March quarter. In contrast, the company set a new January-March quarter record for India with “strong, double-digit revenue growth”. In a post-earnings analyst call, CEO Tim Cook had said: “India is moving fast. They are moving at a speed that I have not seen in any other country in the world."
He further added that the company was strengthening its India presence across the ecosystem, and the expansion of 4G infrastructure in the country was a “huge opportunity”.
The Indian government is considering exemptions sought by Apple Inc for setting up a unit to assemble iPhones, a top bureaucrat in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion had said earlier this month. Apple has asked the government for a range of tax and policy changes to help build out its iPhone assembly work in India.
The iPhone SE is already being produced at a contract manufacturer's plant in Bangalore.
Earlier this year, Apple also opened its App Accelerator in Bangalore. The centre allows developers to avail of tools and infrastructure to hone their skills, and transform the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.