Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) are in talks with mobile online payment company BOKU for possible acquisition or a long-term partnership, raising the possibility of a takeover war between the two behemoths.

According to TechCrunch, President and CEO Mark Britto and co-founder Ron Hirson of BOKU, have been involved in a series of meetings with Apple in the past three weeks. TechCrunch also reported that BOKU has been "engaged in high-level meetings with Google, namely with Director of Engineering Michael Morrissey, who oversees developments for Google Mobile Services for Android."

However, it is not confirmed as to whether the talks are regarding an acquisition or a partnership.

BOKU recently launched a direct mobile payment connection trial with AT&T (NYSE: T) that allows users to make payments for virtual goods and online content from merchants using BOKU's mobile payments service. The service enables users to make payments by punching their mobile number and charging directly to their existing AT&T wireless service account.

BOKU reaches over 2 billion consumers worldwide and has received funding from major venture capitalists like Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, DAG Ventures and Andreesen Horowitz.

Google and Apple's interest in mobile payment domain is reflective of the mobile payment space as another source for revenue, with card issuers, carriers, independent payment platform providers like Pay Pal and banking institutions vying for this space. http:/

Currently, the revenue model available to both the players is revenue sharing option through apps primarily developed to facilitate mobile payments.

For Google, which relies on Checkout as a payment service to facilitate its Android Market, possessing a company that has a platform that directly charges purchases to the carrier bill will add a simpler mode of payment mechanism.

Google had earlier acquired virtual-currency maker Jambool in August to boost sales of virtual goods. BOKU acquisition can be leveraged by Google for its Google Checkout platform to rival Pay-Pal.

Apple's interest in BOKU is to create a payment mechanism for its Apps Store, which could allow it to avoid transaction fee levied by card issuers and platform providers. Currently with more than 250,000 apps in its app store a feasible payment gateway is sure to increase its revenue from apps. Recently Apple also announced the launch of an App Store format for its Mac OS X platform.  

And since Apple is a vertically-integrated company having control over the payment platform, buying BOKU would be a significant strategic move.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

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