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Apple reportedly in talks to purchase Pinterest rival The Fancy

Apple is currently in talks to purchase Pinterest rival The Fancy, Business Insider has reported, citing “a source familiar with Apple’s acquisition strategy.”

The fast-growing site, which counts Twitter and Facebook co-founders among its board members, integrates a social Pinterest-like function of highlighting interesting or desirable items with the ability to purchase them directly. The site takes a 10 per cent cut of transactions it facilitates.

A buy-out of The Fancy would reportedly help Apple grow its e-commerce business beyond just media and apps. The company does, after all, have credit cards linked to its more than 400 million users, and that could mean an exponential growth on the digital payment front.

When Apple’s iOS6 is released in the fall, it will include Passbook, a feature that will allow users to store loyalty cards, coupons, and travel passes. But the company’s recent acquisition of fingerprint authentication software company AuthenTec suggests Apple could be preparing to take Passbook one step further and include some kind of NFC-based mobile payment program when its next generation handset launches in the autumn.

Neither company has commented on the rumours, but Business Insider’s source suggests that, like and Chomp before it, The Fancy’s current valuation and position in the market makes it ripe for an Apple acquisition.

Last year, the company raised $10 million (£6.4 million) in an investment round, placing it at a valuation of around $100 million (£64 million) in a bid led by French luxury corporation PPR. In 2010, it raised $6 million (£3.8 million) in funding.

Among The Fancy’s avowed fans are Apple chief Tim Cook, who signed up for the site earlier this year; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who prompted rumours of a Facebook acquisition after he joined the site in June; and Kanye West, who tweeted last week “Working on the future with Joseph Einhorn” along with an image of him at the start-up’s offices.