Apple is rumored to be considering acquiring a mobile payment start-up called Boku, claims a report at TechCrunch. The news left many Apple-watchers wondering why Apple would want to make such an acquisition when it already enjoys easy online payments funneled through iTunes. Still, a possible acquisition could allow Apple to more easily penetrate emerging markets such as India, where large swaths of the population don't have easy access to credit cards.
Boku already has deals in place with a number of major carriers all over the world. The company offers APIs that allow developers or vendors to enable users to pay for goods or services using their mobile phone. Those charges are then added to a user's monthly cell phone bill. In areas where credit cards are scarce, potential iPhone users could be cut out of the iTunes/App Store ecosystem. Apple could be looking at acquiring Boku to offer an alternative payment options to such users.
Alternately, Apple could use know-how from Boku to extend iPhone users' Apple ID accounts to pay for goods and services outside the iTunes Store, offering developers or web site owners a way to accept payments directly from iPhone users that requires nothing more than a phone number and a password.
Mobile rival Google may also be looking to acquire Boku—mobile payments are consider a major growth area, particularly in emerging markets—setting the stage for an AdMob-style bidding war. However, the site's sources suggest the price currently being considered is just $250 million. That's chump change to either company, but certainly in fitting with Apple's pattern of acquiring technology and talent from much smaller firms.
Source: ars technica