Apple And Google Rumoured Clash For Boku

Apple and Google are rumoured to be going head-to-head in a battle to acquire San Francisco-based mobile payments firm, Boku. According to sources at US website TechCrunch, Boku’s senior management team have held talks with both camps in recent weeks, prompting speculation of a bidding war between the two tech giants similar to when they both went after AdMob last year (a race eventually won by Google). Sources say the successful company may need to pay up to US$450 million to acquire Boku, though this would be relatively small beer for the likes of Apple, which is sitting on an estimated US$50 billion war chest. None of the parties involved have confirmed the story; Sources say that discussions are still at an early stage and – in the case of Google – could relate to a partnership rather than an acquisition.

Both Apple and Google are understood to be looking to beef up their standing in the mobile payments space, which makes Boku a particularly attractive target. TechCrunch notes that the start-up has received US$38 million in funding from a slew of big-name investors such as Benchmark Capital, Khosla Ventures, Index Ventures, DAG Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. It also boasts relationships with several major global operators, which it claims gives it access to 1.6 billion consumers worldwide. Last week, Boku struck a deal with AT&T that lets subscribers buy music, movies and other digital goods by typing in their phone number instead of using a bank card or PayPal account. It struck a similar deal recently with Vodafone UK.

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