EU Regulator Condemns Apple's Action of Restricting Rivals' Access to Payment Tech
Europe's antitrust regulator has accused Apple of making it hard for competitors to use its payment technology. It could force Apple to change how its system works and expose it to a huge fine.
In a recent news release, the European Commission said it had "informed Apple of its preliminary view that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices."
The commission's statement of complaints to Apple highlights possible antitrust violations in Europe, but it does not necessarily determine the investigation's eventual outcome.
Apple will have the opportunity to review the commission's conclusions and reply.
According to the European Commission (NFC), Apple has hindered competition in the mobile wallet market on its iPhone operating system by limiting the technology used for contactless payments, known as near-field communication.
Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s competition chief and executive vice president, said:
"In our Statement of Objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.”
According to the commission, Apple's refusal to make its NFC technology available to third-party mobile wallet app developers "has an exclusionary effect on competitors and leads to less innovation and fewer choices for consumers for mobile wallets on iPhones."
An Apple spokesperson said, "Apple Pay is only one of many options available to European consumers for making payments and has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security. 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.”
Apple is also worried that changes to its payment system could make it less safe.
Apple's guidelines for developers who want to publish apps on iOS have been investigated separately by the commission.
Under the Digital Markets Act, Europe has agreed on new rules that will limit the power of digital platforms that act as gatekeepers to important services.
In the United States, lawmakers have looked into Apple's handling of app developers and proposed new legislation requiring Apple and others to provide a more open environment for potential competitors wishing to publish apps on their phones.