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Australia’s three biggest banks are claiming that Apple is in breach of antitrust laws by not allowing third-party mobile payment apps to use the NFC chip used by Apple Pay for contactless payment.

Reuters reports that the banks have initially requested permission from regulators to jointly negotiate with Apple – ironically, because they might themselves be in breach of antitrust laws if they clubbed together to negotiate without clearance to do so …

The three Australian banks contend that while Apple allows apps on iPhones using other commonplace technology, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, restricting the technology through which mobile wallets function – known as Near Field Technology – constitutes anti-competitive behavior.

National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp all want the right to access the NFC chip in iPhones for their own mobile wallet apps. The banks say they believe it is the first time that anyone has challenged the legality of Apple limiting use of NFC to its own service.

The action is at an early stage. At this point, all the banks have done is sought approval to jointly negotiate with Apple for access to the NFC chip. However, as Apple is almost certain to refuse, it’s likely that a legal challenge will follow.

The launch of Apple Pay in Australia was reportedly delayed by banks being unhappy about the fees charged by Apple. While these are very low, at 0.15% of transaction values, banks themselves only collect around 1%, from which Apple’s cut has to be paid. So far, only Amex and ANZ have signed-up for Apple Pay in the country.

Photo: investors.com

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