- Apple last week bought Mobeewave, a startup whose technology could turn iPhones into mobile payment terminals, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the deal. Apple paid $100 million for the company, whose technology gives shoppers a way to tap a credit card or smartphone on another mobile device to make a payment.
- Mobeewave's tech works with an app and doesn't need any additional hardware aside from the near field communications (NFC) chip that Apple started putting into iPhones in 2014. NFC chips provide a way for iPhones to handle secure contactless payments with Apple's digital wallet, according to the company.
- Apple retained Mobeewave's dozens of employees who work in the startup's Montreal office. The tech giant declined to discuss its plans for Mobeewave, saying it occasionally buys smaller tech companies, Bloomberg reported.
While Apple generally doesn't disclose how it will incorporate the technology of acquired companies, the iPhone maker's purchase of Mobeewave may be significant for businesses that are looking for ways to handle contactless payments without installing specialized hardware. As Mobeewave demonstrates on its website, its technology transforms any smartphone with an NFC chip into a payment terminal. That means retailers could equip their employees with iPhones that handle payments from anywhere in a store, providing more convenience to shoppers.
The acquisition of Mobeewave may position Apple to compete more directly with Square, the provider of payment hardware and software for mobile devices. Square has reported steady revenue gains over the years, including a 44% gain to $1.38 billion in Q1 from a year earlier. That growth outpaced Apple's 11% increase to $59.7 billion, though the iPhone maker is operating in a more mature market for personal computers and smartphones. As Apple looks for ways to boost revenue growth, contactless payments could be a key area for expansion, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when some merchants are not accepting cash. More than half (58%) of consumers who have used contactless payments said they're more likely to use them in the future, American Express found in a consumer survey.
Apple's purchase of Mobeewave follows several other acquisitions this year that provide some insight into the tech giant's strategy. Apple recently bought Dark Sky to expand its offerings for weather information, a popular feature for mobile devices. The company followed that acquisition with the purchase of NextVR, which streams immersive entertainment and live events like concerts and sports programming. Apple is said to be working on an augmented reality (AR) headset that may replace smartphones for some consumers, and immersive content may help to bolster sales of the devices.