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Dow Jones Jumps 200 Points; Apple Buys Mobile Payments Start-Up; Microsoft Interested in TikTok's U.S. Operations

By Timothy Green – Aug 3, 2020 at 2:11PM

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Apple could expand its mobile payments business, and Microsoft is in talks to acquire a wildly popular social media app.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.43%) was surging on Monday, up 0.93% at noon EDT. The gain comes despite uncertainty over the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic and the stimulus bill working its way through Congress.

Shares of mega-cap tech companies Apple (AAPL 0.66%) and Microsoft (MSFT -0.44%) were helping to drive the Dow higher. Apple acquired a mobile payments company late last week that could expand its presence in the mobile payments arena, and Microsoft is working to acquire the U.S. operations of social media sensation TikTok.

An iPhone being tapped on a payments terminal.

Image source: Apple.

Apple acquires mobile payments company

Late Friday, Bloomberg reported that Apple had paid approximately $100 million to acquire Mobeewave, a start-up that specializes in mobile payments. Mobeewave's technology allows a credit card or smartphone to be tapped on another smartphone to process a payment. The only special hardware required is an NFC chip, which many phones shipping today already have. All iPhones have included the chip for years.

While Apple's plans for the start-up's tech aren't known, the acquisition could lead to Apple offering its own mobile payments solution for businesses. This would put it in competition with mobile payments companies like Square, which offer hardware that businesses can use to easily accept credit card payments.

Apple already offers Apple Pay, a way for iPhone users to pay in-store by tapping their phones on a terminal. Integrating Mobeewave's tech could allow merchants to accept Apple Pay without any hardware other than an iOS device.

This acquisition comes soon after Apple reported blockbuster quarterly results amid the pandemic. The company managed to grow iPhone sales despite mass store closures and a very weak economy, although the economic stimulus likely contributed to the company's success.

Shares of Apple were up 3.2% by early Monday afternoon. The stock has gained nearly 50% so far this year.

Microsoft wants to buy TikTok's U.S. operations

Drama surrounding popular social media app TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, played out over the weekend. The U.S. government has grown concerned that the Chinese government could gain access to data on American citizens collected by TikTok, or that it could use the app to spread propaganda.

Microsoft had been in talks to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations, a move that would solve the privacy issues surrounding the app. But President Donald Trump threw the deal into chaos on Friday by saying he preferred banning the app in the U.S. It now appears that the deal is back on, with Microsoft saying that it expects to complete the negotiations by Sept. 15.

TikTok offers little in the way of synergies for Microsoft, which is primarily focused on software and cloud computing services aimed at businesses. The company owns LinkedIn, which it acquired in 2016, but LinkedIn caters to a very different audience than TikTok. The deal would give Microsoft an app with around 100 million users in the United States, but how that would fit with Microsoft's overall strategy is unclear.

Shares of Microsoft were up 4.3% by early Monday afternoon. The stock has soared 35% since the beginning of the year.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Microsoft, and Square and recommends the following options: short September 2020 $70 puts on Square, long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, and short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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