EU Plans to Hit Apple With Antitrust Charges Over Apple Pay

The European Commission is planning to charge Apple with anticompetitive behavior with regards to Apple Pay, since it is the only payment service that can use the iPhone's Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip, Reuters reports.

apple pay
EU antitrust investigator Margrethe Vestager has been investigating ‌Apple Pay‌ since June last year, but the European Commission has since centered its focus on the NFC chip alone, according to individuals familiar with the matter speaking to Reuters.

The NFC chip in the ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch enables tap-and-go contactless payments, but ‌Apple Pay‌ is the only payment service that can use this hardware. On Android devices, multiple payment services can offer contactless payments using the NFC chip, but on the ‌iPhone‌, no rival services are allowed to leverage the NFC hardware.

The Commission's preliminary concerns also reportedly include Apple's terms and conditions on how ‌Apple Pay‌ should be used in merchants' apps and on websites. Concerns may have been raised by ‌Apple Pay‌'s wide reach and better user experience on the ‌iPhone‌ compared to other services, and accelerated by the growth of contactless payments during the global health crisis.

The EU competition enforcer is now believed to be preparing a statement of objections to charge Apple with anticompetitive conduct, which is expected to be sent to the company next year. The antitrust charge could put Apple at risk of a large fine and force it to open the NFC chip to rival payment systems in Europe. Similar investigations have also been opened in Australia.

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Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Top Rated Comments

jarman92 Avatar
35 months ago
What is it that the EU doesn't understand about consumers not wanting massive fragmentation in every aspect of their lives? For example, if banks are allowed direct access to the NFC chip they're going to force you to open/use their terrible apps to use Apple Pay. Without Apple strong-arming them, they would have already done so in Australia.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
From Win to Mac Avatar
35 months ago
Perhaps a lawyer can jump in for this question: when a company is accused of antitrust behavior, isn't there a requirement that consumers are forced to use the product, or are at least significantly disadvantaged if they don't?

I mean it in the context of, no one is really forced to buy an iPhone, anyone can easily switch to Android. I contrast that with Microsoft's antitrust in the 90s, where they had 90% market share and much of the software was only available on Windows, which de facto forced everyone onto Windows.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
35 months ago
Is this really an issue? I mean, Apple Pay is just a conduit, that allows a payment card provider to offer NFC on the iPhone. It's not like you're only limited to using Apple Card. I have all my cards in Apple Pay and can use any one of them, and it's exactly the same from my perspective as using the card directly.

Apple just provides a conduit and interface, not really the service itself.

If it were something like, only Apple Card can use Apple Pay, I'd get it, but it's not like that.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HQuest Avatar
35 months ago

Concerns may have been raised by Apple Pay's wide reach and better user experience on the iPhone compared to other services
Quick, let us sue them for doing a good service, so bad services have a chance to fail even more.
— Europeans
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bandrews Avatar
35 months ago
Not sure if anyone has posted this yet but the worst part about opening it up to everyone is that banks can then force you to use their own proprietary contactless payment app. Not sure if it's still the case but when I had a Pixel 5 last year I was unable to add my Barclays card to Google Pay as Barclays only allowed contactless payments through their own app. A nightmare if you want to regularly switch between different cards from different banks. This fragmentation is a bit like the opposite of their USB-C decision which aims to simplify and standardise.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rigby Avatar
35 months ago

Thank goodness the UK left the EU
Yeah, well, at least you don't need Apple Pay to pay for gas, since there isn't any. :p
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)