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EU claims Apple is breaking competition law on contactless payments

The iPhone maker is accused of abusing its market position to limit access to the tech behind NFC transactions
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Image: Shutterstock via Dennis

3 May 2022

European Union regulators have charged Apple with breaking competition law by limiting developer access to its mobile contactless payment technology.

Specifically, antitrust investigators are concerned that the iPhone maker has prevented competitors from accessing the “tap and go” chips, known as near-field communication (NFC), to benefit its own Apple Pay system.

In its preliminary findings, Brussels said it considered that Apple “enjoys significant market power in the market for smart mobile devices and a dominant position on mobile wallet markets”.

 

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Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president and head of competition policy, said on Monday that Brussels had found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its solution and, if confirmed, such conduct would be “illegal” under the EU’s competition rules.

“Apple restricted access to key inputs that are necessary to develop and run mobile payments apps, so-called ‘mobile wallets’,” Vestager said in a statement. “Evidence on our file indicates that some developers did not go ahead with their plans as they were not able to reach iPhone users.”

“The preliminary conclusion we reached today relates to mobile payments in shops. By excluding others from the game, Apple has unfairly shielded its Apple Pay wallet from competition. If proven, this behaviour would amount to abuse of a dominant position, which is illegal under our rules.”

The statement is a list of objections, where the European Commission has detailed the grounds on which it believes Apple “may have illegally distorted competition” in the mobile wallets market. The iPhone maker will have an opportunity to respond, though it could face a fine of up to 10% of its global revenues if the charges are upheld.

“We will continue to engage with the commission to ensure European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment,” a spokesperson for Apple told The Financial Times.

© Dennis Publishing

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