Tech

Apple may be setting up to compete with Square’s contactless payments

Is Apple preparing to take on the mobile payment company, Square, Inc.? A recent purchase suggests as much.

Apple has reportedly acquired Mobeewave, a Montreal-based tech startup that empowers tap-based payments. It works like this: a vendor with the app installed can turn their near-field communication-equipped (NFC) smartphone or tablet into a contactless payment terminal.

So unlike Square, which depends on a card reader for payments, Mobeewave’s technology can accept payments from NFC-equipped cards and smartphones with a tap. Apple’s iPhones, notably, have come packing NFC tech since 2014.

The timing of Apple’s acquisition is notable coming just days after CEO Tim Cook’s virtual appearance before Congress on Wednesday to field uncomfortable questions about antitrust concerns. You’ve likely interacted with Square’s business at some point if you’ve ever swiped a credit card through a reader attached to an iPad in a store.

Contactless payments of the kind that Mobeewave offers aren’t new, but interest has undoubtedly increased in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The less physical contact we’re forced to have with hardware like credit card readers, the better.

The acquisition doesn’t doesn’t mean that Apple is definitively moving toward taking on Square with its own payments service. But the iPhone company has been moving more in the financial services direction in recent years, as evidenced by the introduction of the Apple Card (among other things).

Bloomberg, which reported the Mobeewave news, also pointed out that this is how Apple tends to operate around acquisitions. “Apple typically buys startups to turn their technology into features of its products,” the report noted, adding that Mobeewave’s tech could easily integrate with Apple Pay.



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