Since its founding six years ago, Braintree has grown its annual processing volume to $10 billion a year — including more than $2 billion from mobile transactions — which could make the Chicago-based payments processor an attractive addition to a number of companies.

Braintree stands to benefit a number of digital wallet developers, and Google, PayPal and Square may be its top suitors, TechCrunch reports. Square could see the most gain from a potential acquisition, although the report, which cites unnamed sources, claims Braintree’s $1 billion price tag is too high for Jack Dorsey’s payment startup.

“However if Square can stomach the bill, Braintree would be a solid acquisition,” says Jordan McKee, an analyst at the Yankee Group. “Specifically, Braintree’s Venmo offering could help Square build out it person-to-person initiative.”

Square Cash, which allows users to send money via email, was announced in May. Consumers send an email with a dollar amount in the subject line to a recipient and then copy as a second recipient.

The P2P initiative was announced less than a week after Google built similar capabilities through Google Wallet and Gmail.

P2P is a notoriously challenging field for payments companies, but because Square and Google both have a large user base already, both companies have sidestepped one hurdle.

“A Braintree acquisition would also aid Square immensely in bolstering the merchant and consumer value proposition for Square Market by enabling seamless checkouts,” McKee says.

Square Market launched in June, allowing merchants to establish an online store through the Square Register app. One small merchant in New York City, Birch Coffee, uses the marketplace to get its products to a wider audience. Plus, Square is cheaper than marketplaces such as Shopify.

Square did not respond to a request for comment.

“Square got a higher valuation with a similar amount of transaction volume…so to that extent it’s not outrageous but the devil’s in the details,” says Rick Oglesby, senior analyst at Aite Group, about the $1 billion price tag.

These players make sense, Oglesby says, but Visa Inc. with, or MasterCard Inc. with MasterPass could also be potential buyers.

While Visa and MasterCard are established players better equipped to fund an acquisition, Oglesby says, “Everyone cares about the price even if you can afford it…you have to see what it does to the share price.”

Most companies will be looking for an accretive acquisition, one that increases gradually, adding to earnings per share, he says.

Braintree “has a lot of enrolled consumers in a cloud-based wallet solution, therefore anybody that’s looking to extend a wallet platform could benefit from buying,” says Oglesby.

Braintree is said to have been seeking acquisition deals for some time, including a deal with Google that apparently fell through, TechCrunch reports. Google declined to comment on rumor and speculation.

PayPal is also a potential candidate, because it’s building out its mobile wallet.

In 2012, PayPal signed tons of new retail partnerships expanding its point of sale strategy while developing a digital wallet that the company hopes to bring to the real world. PayPal launched its redesigned mobile app on Sept. 5, which reflects its offline evolution, in 125 countries. PayPal also declined to comment.

Apple could also benefit from an acquisition of Braintree, says Oglesby.

“Apple, through iTunes, already has what most people believe to be the largest wallet in the business and marketplace for digital content in the business,” Oglesby says. “Braintree is doing pretty good at selling things that are not digital content in its marketplace, so it could be a good extension with what Apple’s doing with iTunes.”

Merchant acquirers and private equity firms could also be possible suitors for Braintree, says Oglesby.

“There are a lot of different angles here,” he says. “The reality is they’re more than likely to sell to the highest bidder and there are a lot of potential bidders.”

Braintree also declined to comment.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry