Someday my prints will come: Apple buys Authentec for NFC?
Apple has bought, AuthenTec, a company that specialises in security systems such as fingerprint scanners, for US$356mn. The Delaware-based company also makes NFC chipsets and other mobile security products.
Apple has not indicated the reason for the acquisition, although a report in ‘All Things D’ quotes a document attached to AuthenTec’s 8-K filing with the US Security’s Exchange Commission (SEC) which includes a development agreement that sets out work the vendor will do on “developing a 2D fingerprint sensor for Apple”. The suggestion is that this technology could help Apple provide authentication of mobile payments via a new iPhone model, expected to be unveiled in September (similar technology is already used for mobile payments in Japan).
In addition, Apple is paying US$20mn for rights to some AuthenTec patents, and has an option to pay up to US$115 mn for other patents if it chooses, says the ‘All Things D’ report.
As noted by ‘Macworld’, speculation about Apple’s interest in mobile payments has been revved up by the introduction of the Passbook feature in iOS 6. Passbook is initially intended for the collection of discount cards, boarding passes, and other tickets, but could furnish a bridge to payment-based functionality.
Kendrick Struthers Watson