Re/code is reporting that both Apple and Google have considered making acquisition offers for payments company Square, with CEO Jack Dorsey said to favor a sale to Apple.

In the last year, both Apple and Google have considered making acquisition offers for Square, according to industry sources familiar with the situation […]

[Dorsey] believes, sources said, that his company’s design aesthetic and values match up much more closely with Apple than Google …

Apple is known to have plans in mobile payment, allowing payment for physical goods in third-party retailers through iTunes accounts. Speculation that Touch ID could be used to authorize payments was as good as confirmed by Tim Cook when he said that mobile payment “was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID.”

PayPal had reportedly approached Apple to offer its assistance as a payment processor, an offer Apple seemed unlikely to accept.

Square cardreaders are available for both iPhones and iPads with the iPhone reader sold in Apple Stores. Acquiring Square would make sense for both parties, suggests Re/code.

Square would immediately give Apple built-in distribution at thousands of businesses that use it to manage their payments.

A deal with Apple could mean that Square could stop worrying about getting adoption for Square Wallet. Apple already has hundreds of millions of credit cards on file through its iTunes service and could use those along with its own digital wallet Passbook as the underpinnings of its own mobile-payments offering for consumers.

Square’s idea of its own value may, however, prove a stumbling block. It has been suggested that the board would be looking for an offer of around $8B, more than 60 percent above the $5B valuation placed on the company in a recent share offer.

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21 Responses to “Could Apple buy Square to accelerate its mobile payment plans?”

  1. rogifan says:

    OK this is actually an acquisition that makes sense. Do it Apple!


  2. I love Square! I also agree with the remark made about Square’s design matching up more with Apple than Google. I think they would be a good match for one another! Do this Apple! Buy them up!


    • Which system Square matches up with isn’t what this is about. Its about driving up the price. It goes something like this: Google we’re leaning towards Apple because we think Square matches Apple Better. Google responds, how about another billion. Square, Apple?

      Square could give a rats ass about which system, Apple/Google, its system matches up with best. Its about who’s going to pay more.


      • Matt Basile says:

        Precisely, and Google is no stranger to offering/paying more than something is valued at. I’d like to see Square not bought by anyone, but if it has to be it better not be Google.


  3. Alex Kaess says:

    What about Venmo? I have used both Square and Venmo, and much prefer Venmo due the lack of additional hardware. If Apple were to acquire Venmo, they could use iBeacon technology so shoppers could easily know which account to pay. I realize that one limitation of Venmo is that it accesses bank accounts, while Square is used for credit cards; however, if customers could link their iTunes account to Venmo then the credit card associated with their iTunes account would be charged.

    I think Apple is most likely developing their own platform in-house, that is similar to Venmo and links to iTunes accounts. The integration with iBeacon will be the special sauce. It will essentially turn all major retail chains into Apple stores in terms of the payment process experience. Touch ID of course will be required to confirm each payment.


    • Venmo is owned by Braintree, which is now owned by PayPal. Apple won’t be acquiring Venmo, not now, not ever.


    • I was about to google “Venmo”, until you said it was owned by PayPal. Forget that.


      • As a Venmo user, I can tell you that the service hasn’t changed at all since eBay/PayPal made the acquisition. I understand where you’re coming from regarding PayPal, but right now, Braintree is still an independent company. Venmo is great because there’s no fees for transferring money and as long as it stays that way, I’ll stick with them.

        The alternative is Square Cash, but right now, they only offer money transfers from a debit/credit card. There are some people I know, who still live in the past, that refuse to get a debit card. When Square Cash allows ACH Transfers via Bank Account #, I’ll switch to them.


      • Andrew Jung says:

        And isn’t PayPal owned by eBay?


  4. Why even sell at all? Isn’t is a cop-out to pretend like you are in business for your customers only to sell out to the highest bidder as if that was the main purpose all along?

    I agree with Dempsey about Apple being better, but the truth is the product isn’t a good fit for them so it likely won’t happen. If Square sells out to Google I will lose all respect for them and I will stop using their products. They are already doing very very well financially, they don’t “need” to sell out at all, and if they do, it just shows that they are more concerned with money than their own product or their own business.

    What will Google add to the product except restrictions on it’s use?

    And if you already have ten million dollars, what good does another ten million do, or 10 billion? Nothing.

    A person can only drive one car at a time and live in one house at a time and a beach is a beach regardless of whether it’s in some exotic location or just downtown.


    • I wouldn’t say it is a sell out. There’s a lot of reasons a company might sell to another, not least of which is more capital to expand to more countries, improve the product by hiring more engineers, developers, etc. And, simply to pay off investors who are looking to cash in on their investment.

      Just because a company sells to another company doesn’t mean they are turning their backs on their customers, it just means they’re moving in a new bigger direction. Nothing wrong with that, especially as long as those current customers are still getting supported. And if this happens, if Square sells to Google or Apple, I wouldn’t assume that was Jack Dorsey’s plan all along. Look him up, watch his speeches, it isn’t about the money or the selling out as you put it. Dorsey cares about the products he has his name attached too. You can see it and hear it from his speeches, he’s very passionate about his vision.


      • i know what you are saying and I know there are sometimes other reasons, but in this case I don’t see any “other reasons” when the suitor is Google. The whole thing stinks like a giant sell-out if they go to Google because Google can’t offer them anything but integration into the evil empire. They would become just another cog in the machine like Nest.


  5. I think Apple would be a great match Square being used with iBeacon and Touch ID would be the trifecta.


  6. Alex Kaess says:

    Does anyone know what platform is used in Apple retail stores? Is it an in-house application or is there a partnership with an outside company? If it’s in-house, I would think the mobile payments solution would just be an extension of that platform.


  7. rgbfoundry says:

    Can anybody name a single instance where Apple has bought a company that already had a VERY well established brand? Honest question here. I can’t think of a single case. “Apple should buy Tesla”, “Apple should buy Jawbone”, “Apple should buy Square.” Apple considers the IP of a company its value. They don’t habitually buy a company with a good brand and destroy it by rolling it into Apple. They’re not looking to increase their cache the way Microsoft bought Skype or Nokia. Apple wants underground talent and they’re very smart to avoid spending money acquiring brands.


  8. Andrew Jung says:

    9to5, I was wondering, when you make a link to a company like Square in the article, could you link it to the actual company website rather than a tag linking to other articles? (http://9to5mac.com/tag/square/) To be honest, I’ve never heard of Square and so as a user I expect that the link would take me to their site. Instead I have to try to do a web search for such a common word as “Square”.

    Would that be possible? I think tag links at the bottom of the article would be better and more in line with what is expected.



    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Generally, we link to tags so that you can easily read other news on the topic. This mostly applies when we think the product or company is sufficiently well-known that people don’t need to look it up to see what it is, but I take on board that wasn’t the case here for everyone.

      Just in case you didn’t find it, the link is https://squareup.com


  9. Ken Mattlin says:

    I am both longtime Apple user and we also use square with our iPad for our small business. This match seems to be a perfect fit. The simplicity with the no-hastle Square set-up and the superior seamless computer expertise of Apple….What could possibly be better?