Fintiv Targets Apple Pay for Lawsuit in Mobile Payments Fracas

January 2, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

It’s been a while since we’ve seen much action in the patent space surrounding the mobile payments market, and what a way to get back into that space! An Austin startup known as Fintiv thinks it’s got the number on one of the biggest mobile payments platforms around, Apple Pay, on the strength of a patent Fintiv itself holds.

The Fintiv patent in question was picked up secondhand from a South Korean firm, and targets “management of virtual cards stored on mobile devices,” including a portion addressing “provisioning a contactless card in a mobile device with a mobile wallet application.” That’s just general enough to cover pretty much every mobile payments system around, but Fintiv reportedly alleges Apple is infringing three claims in the patent thanks to not only the iOS Wallet app, but also for Apple Watches and even iPhones.

Fintiv notes that it has around 5.4 million people on its mobile payments and marketing platform, and reaches 60 different countries because it’s available in 12 different languages. All of this is made even more impressive—cynical souls might say “unlikely” here—by dint of the fact that Fintiv isn’t yet a year old.

Naturally, this whole affair is just getting started, so there’s not much in the way of outcome to speak of just yet. This isn’t Apple first go-round with such firms, as Apple has been waging a running battle for some time now against Qualcomm. The chipmaker alleged patent infringement, and it got to the point where China actually imposed an injunction against the sale of some iPhones. Apple, for its part, actually readied a software update to serve as a workaround, which suggests that Qualcomm may have at least had a point.

How exactly a year-old firm declares patent infringement when the company it’s targeting has been running the system in question for over four years is, at best, unclear. Perhaps there are some issues here that aren’t so clear, though if a South Korean firm actually held a patent that it could sell to Fintiv that would have proven infringement, it likely would have sued Apple itself.

Only time will tell whether my simple sniff test proves accurate—I am, after all, not a lawyer—or if I’m completely off-base, and Fintiv will win its suit against Apple.