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Nike is the latest company to offer 3% cash back to Apple Card users, when they make an Apple Pay purchase using the card across Nike’s retail platforms, including its stores,, SNKRS, Nike Training Club, Nike Running Club and on the Nike app. The addition is one of what’s still a small number of Apple Pay partners who are offering the top-tier cash back rate of 3% to cardholders — a group that also includes Uber/Uber Eats, Walgreens/Duane Reade, and T-Mobile stores.

When first introduced, Apple had only said purchases from Apple itself would be rewarded with 3% back. Apple Pay transactions would be rewarded with 2% back and use of the physical card offered 1% back.

But when the card launched in August to customers in the U.S., Apple surprised everyone by expanding the 3% back to Uber and Ubers Eats, too, with promises of more to come.

Since then, Apple has been steadily expanding the number of retailers and apps that offer cash back to Apple Card users, giving Apple a larger foothold in online and mobile payments, as well as point-of-sale transactions. In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Pay transaction volume was bigger thabn PayPal and was growing 4 times as fast.

Apple’s advances in this area have clearly shaken up the market, as Apple Pay rival PayPal last week announced its largest acquisition to date with a deal to buy browser maker Honey for $4 billion in mostly cash. PayPal plans to use Honey to get ahead of the checkout page by reaching customers as they’re shopping online looking for deals and discovering new products. By capturing the customer at this earlier stage, PayPal can acquire the sale before the customer chooses to simply tap a button to pay with Apple Pay instead.

Nike is an obvious choice as the next Apple Card partner, given the two companies’ close relationship over the years on products which ran from retail partnerships to co-branded products, like the Apple Watch Nike+ edition and Nike sports bands, for example. Nike also last year rolled out Nike+ app membership benefits that included free months of Apple Music, among other perks.

As an Apple Card partner, Nike customers who transact through Apple Pay with their card receive 3% Daily Cash. This is applied to the customer’s Apple Cash Card, then can be used immediately for other Apple Pay purchases, sent to family and friends, or can be put towards the Apple Card balance.

Apple says more Apple Card partners will be added in the months ahead.

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Nike has long been synonymous with premium sneakers and other sports gear, but now the company could be extending its brand into another area — digital media — thanks to the rumored acquisition of a Seattle-based startup.

TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that the multibillion-dollar sports giant has acquired TraceMe, which originally built an app to let fans engage with sports stars and other celebrities before later pivoting into a service called Tally, a platform aimed at sports teams, broadcasters and venues to help fans engage around sporting events.

TraceMe was originally founded by Russell Wilson, the champion quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, who was the executive chairman of the startup. The company had raised at least $9 million from investors that included the Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group and Bezos Expeditions (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ fund), as well as YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and others, and it was last valued, in 2017, at $60 million.

Nike confirmed the acquisition to us in a short statement: “NIKE, Inc. has acquired TraceMe to supplement the company’s content strategy on Nike-owned platforms,” a spokespersonsaid in an email.

Our source said the deal closed in recent weeks and that “it was a good outcome” for the company and investors. It involved both IP — the main interest, the source said, was in TraceMe’s tech rather than Tally’s — and the team.

Indeed, at least eight of them, including TraceMe’s CEO Jason LeeKeenan, an ex-Hulu executive, are now listing Nike as their place of employment. LeeKeenan describes his new role as the head of Nike Seattle. Others on the team now have taken roles that include software engineers, head of product and product designers.

No one at TraceMe responded to our requests for comment. GeekWire (which likely got the same tip we did) published a post noting that it had a source that confirmed the deal.

The athletic footwear giant Nike is no stranger to the world of technology: it has been a longtime collaborator with the likes of Apple to develop apps for its devices and has been an early mover on the concept of bringing and integrating cutting-edge (yes, possibly gimmicky) tech into its footwear and other gear. And that’s before you consider Nike as an e-commerce force.

But while the dalliance between sports, tech and fashion is well established, this deal opens up a different frontier for the company.

It’s very rare for Nike to make an acquisition, but it makes sense that if it were going to do some M&A, it would be in the area of digital media and picking up engineers to execute on a wider vision in that area.

The company is best known, of course, for its shoes and related sporty clothes, which it has for a long time created in co-branding with the biggest sports stars and has more recently started to extend to a wider circle of celebrities and hot fashion labels in a spirit of sporty street style. These have included the likes of so-cool Supreme, Travis Scott and seemingly other tentative forays into music culture.

Nike overshadows all other sports shoe brands in size, with its current market cap at nearly $117 billion, more than twice that of its closest competitor, Adidas . But Adidas has been stealing a march when it comes to partnerships with a wide network of celebrities (even if Drake prefers checks over stripes).

While it isn’t clear yet how and if Nike will be using the startup’s existing services, you could see how a deal like this could help Nike start to think about how it might leverage the collaborations and endorsements it already has in place into experiences beyond shoes, advertising and athletic performance.

In this age of Instagram and influencers playing a massive role in shifting consumer sentiment (and dollars), this could give Nike a shot at building its own media platform, independent of these, on its own terms.

This is a bigger trend that we’re seeing across other consumer categories. Consider how companies like Spotify have extended beyond simple music streaming, investing in building tools to help artists on its platform with marketing and expanding their brands. Selling shoes means selling a concept, and that concept needs to have a foothold in a wider digital experience. 

Updated with comment from Apple.

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Nikes famous Moon Shoe and limited-edition trainers produced by Kanye West, Air Jordan and Adidas will be sold

Sothebys in New York has announced its first-ever auction dedicated to sneakers.

The auction house will sell 100 pairs of the rarest sneakers ever produced, including a sample of one of the first Nike running shoes with a pre-sale high estimate of $160,000.

The Nike Moon Shoe is one of only 12 pairs created. It was designed by Nike co-founder and track coach Bill Bowerman for runners at the 1972 Olympics trials and the pair up for auction is handmade, according to streetwear marketplace Stadium Goods, which is teaming up with Sothebys for the event.

Other sneakers include 2011 and 2016 versions of the Back to the Future Part II limited-edition shoes by Nike that were inspired by the 1989 film starring Michael J Fox.

The 2016 version of the futuristic shoe, complete with self-lacing technology, is expected to sell for between $50,000 and $70,000.

The Nike Mags sneaker, the design worn by Marty McFly character in Back to the Future Part II and one of only 1,500 pairs made Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

Weve long talked about how sneakers are this generations luxury fashion, and being able to collaborate with a brand with the history and esteem of Sothebys is further proof of that, John McPheters, co-founder of New York-based Stadium Goods, said in a statement.

Other shoes in the online sale, beginning on Thursday and ending on 23 July, include sought-after and limited-edition sneakers produced by Adidas, Air Jordan and rapper Kanye Wests Yeezy collection.

Noah Wunsch, global head of eCommerce at Sothebys, said the sneaker sale was bringing together art, culture and fashion and marked another step in the auction houses expansion of offerings of highly coveted luxury goods.

The highest price fetched at public auction for sneakers is thought to be $190,373 in 2017 for a pair of signed Converse shoes said to have been worn by Michael Jordan in the 1984 Olympic basketball final. The shoes were auctioned through California sports memorabilia company SCP.

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