In a move that many see to herald the launch of a mobile payment system, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said today it will purchase AuthenTec (NASDAQ:AUTH), a fingerprint sensor technology company, for $356 million.
Under terms of the deal, the iPhone maker will pay $8 a share for AuthenTec, a 58% premium over its last trading close, Reuters noted.
Predictably, AuthenTec shares rocketed more than 64% in Friday trading to over $8 a share, while Apple shares rose more than 3%.
AuthenTec debuted as a publicly traded firm in 2007. The company’s fingerprint-reading technology has already been used in mobile payment systems integrated into Japanese cell phones. It has also developed mobile security software that it licenses to electronics and computer giants including Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Samsung and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ).
Rumors have surfaced recently that Apple is preparing to integrate a mobile payment system into the iPhone, possibly starting with the next-generation iPhone that’s expected to debut later this year.
Smartphone rival Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already unveiled a mobile payment system, but it hasn’t yet gained traction among consumers or retailers.
Analysts cited by Reuters said the acquisition could give Apple an edge in reassuring consumers that mobile payments are secure.