EU Regulators Accept Apple Commitments to Open NFC Access to Rivals

The European Union has accepted commitments from Apple to open its mobile payments system and give competitors access to the iPhone's NFC technology, bringing an end to a lengthy investigation by EU regulators into the technology.

apple card via apple pay
According to the announcement, Apple has agreed to open up its payments system to other providers free of charge for a decade. Apple will let users set a third-party wallet app as their default, rather than its own Apple Wallet. It will also allow rivals full access to key iOS features, such as double click to launch wallet apps, along with Face ID, Touch ID, and passcodes for authentication. From the EU press release:

The commitments bring important changes to how Apple operates in Europe to the benefit of competitors and customers.

First, Apple commits to give access to NFC functionality to third-party mobile wallets. This access will be free of charge.

It will take place in what is called "Host Card Emulation mode". This is a software solution that allows rival wallets to make secure NFC payments. Apple Pay, on the other hand, relies on access to the hardware "secure element" in the iPhone. We accept Apple's commitment because it offers an equivalent solution in terms of security and user experience. And it is easier to implement both for Apple and wallet developers. Indeed, other wallets already use this solution in an Android environment.

Second, Apple committed to enable access to important functionalities available on iPhones. This includes Double-Click and Face ID. iPhone users will be able to double-click the side button of their iPhones to launch their preferred payment application. Competing wallets will also be able to use Face ID, Touch ID and passcode to verify users' identities.

Third, Apple will also enable users to make the wallet of their choice the standard option on their iPhones. This is also known as setting the default option.

These commitments are applicable to users registered in the European Economic Area, including when they travel abroad.

And Apple will not prevent developers from combining NFC payments with other use cases, for instance transit cards, access control, concert tickets, and digital identity credentials. Everything that you could have in a wallet.

Apple has until July 25 to implement the changes. The company risks a fine if it violates the agreement, which will remain binding for 10 years.

The European Commission charged Apple in 2022 with violating competition law, contending that Apple was preventing competitors from accessing its near-field communication (NFC) technology to favor Apple Pay. In response to the charges, Apple made a commitment to the European Commission in January to open access to the iPhone's NFC, allowing competitors to create their own contactless payment solutions outside of the confines of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.

The settlement means Apple will avoid a potential fine by the EU that could have been as high as 10% of the company's global annual revenue. Given Apple's reported revenue of $383 billion in 2023, the fine could have amounted to approximately $40 billion.

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Top Rated Comments

bobbie424242 Avatar
1 week ago
Cannot wait for people here to be mad and angry that other apps can use NFC !
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ctrlos Avatar
1 week ago
I've been in favour of every EU ruling so far but this is one that I don't think anyone will want. If every bank starts forcing its users to use their own app for contactless payments just to save the 0.15% in Apple Pay fees then nobody will use them. It will become more convenient (and less secure) to just carry a physical wallet again. With any luck it will be EU-only.

However opening up NFC in general is long overdue. Being able to switch Focus modes by tapping an NFC sticker or spoofing amiibo tags will be more welcome.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
1 week ago
So instead of using "Apple Pay" you'll be using "Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken Pay"

What's the difference? Is there anything you're missing from Apple Pay?

Will you have to use the Volksbanken wallet? And will it do all the things that the Apple Wallet does already? Or will you still have to use Apple Wallet for other things like tickets and such?
That’s really the million dollar question. People talk up a huge deal about more choice and competition, but are surprisingly light on details as to just how the end user experience will actually be any better than the current arrangement where we have one mobile payment option that aggregates all our credit cards, and which we can freely access by double-tapping a button on our phones and Apple Watches.

I sometimes wonder if people here are more enamoured with the idea of sticking it to Apple, than they are about actually ensuring a better experience for the end user.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Daku93 Avatar
1 week ago
This will be fun. I have creditcards from 3 different banks myself plus another one from my employer.
If all of them start using different apps and I can only set one as the default for double clicking the side button, this will get very annoying. Right now its double clicking while iPhone is locked and the quickly swiping to the right card.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Scrip Avatar
1 week ago

Apple will let users set a third-party wallet app as their default, rather than its own Apple Wallet.
Right now I can have credit/debit cards, store loyalty cards, airline tickets, movie tickets, etc, in the Apple Wallet app. It's pretty great!

But what would I gain with a 3rd-party wallet app? Will it be a better experience?

And is anyone asking for this?

Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannys1 Avatar
1 week ago

However opening up NFC in general is long overdue. Being able to switch Focus modes by tapping an NFC sticker or spoofing amiibo tags will be more welcome.
You've been able to do that for YEARS. NFC is available in shortcuts to do anything with. About 8 years ago I used to use an NFC sticker next to my bed to run the night time automation.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)