Late last week, Reuters reported that Apple will be purchasing AuthenTec, a fingerprint sensor chip manufacturer, for $356 million. AuthenTec’s site notes that the technology can be used in a variety of ways and is superior to older optical-based fingerprint technologies.
Delving deeper, the company’s “swipe sensors” utilizes a sub-surface technology that reads the live layer of skin below the skin’s outer layer. Also, the technology is marketed as a means of authentication for mobile wallets– a market Apple has widely been expected to enter for some time. Besides, Apple has already announced Passbook, a feature coming in iOS 6, which handles user’s tickets, rewards cards, gift cards and the like, and this technology would seemingly play into a larger plan for mobile payments.
So, if you take a step back and look at what Apple is doing, a picture begins to form. Apple has already announced Passbook, there are many rumors that the company is exploring near field communication technologies, and now Apple has purchased a fingerprint sensor company. It seems pretty clear that Apple is at least looking at building a mobile payment system.