Apple has fired the latest salvo in its continuing battle with Australia's banks over the future of mobile payments, accusing the industry of continually trying to obstruct the expansion of Apple Pay into the country (via Bloomberg).
In a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published on Monday, Apple said the banks' attempts to delay or even block the expansion of Apple Pay was damaging to consumers and smaller card issuers who could use the system "as a means of securing a digital presence in competition with the big banks".
In July of last year, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank (NAB), and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank sought to enter into group talks with Apple to negotiate access to the NFC hardware in the iPhone so they could offer their own mobile payments services using the iPhone's NFC chip. Apple argued that giving the banks such access would "undermine the security and simplicity" of its system. The ACCC later drafted a ruling that refused to grant the banks permission to negotiate collectively.
In its latest submission to the ACCC, Apple argued that the banks' argument over access to the iPhone's NFC chip was a "Trojan horse" and that their wish to have the ability to charge consumers for using Apple Pay was "logically inconsistent", given that competition from other issuers like ANZ who do not charge for using Apple Pay would prevent them from doing so.
"Perhaps the explanation might be that this is perceived by the applicant banks as a way of introducing and then proliferating a new revenue stream in the digital payments age. It may well be that the applicant banks have taken the view that customers may be more willing to pay fees to use Apple Pay because of the ease and security of using Apple Pay and, on that basis, see an opportunity to introduce and condition the market to transaction fees for the use of Apple Pay, with the longer term view to setting a precedent for charging for mobile payments on other digital wallets, in the future, including the banks’ own proprietary wallets."
The banks responded later on Monday with a statement claiming Apple's interpretation was wrong:
The application has never been about preventing Apple Pay from coming to Australia or reducing competition between wallets. It has always been about providing real choice and real competition for consumers and facilitating innovation and investment in the digital wallet functionality available to Australians. Apple's statement that the application is fundamentally about an objection to the fees that Apple wish to be given rather than NFC access, is incorrect and unsupported.
According to the banks, the applicants will soon provide a response to the ACCC's draft decision that would further demonstrate the net public benefits of the application.