An investigation into Apple blocking the use of rival mobile payment service TWINT in Switzerland has been resolved – though a related one is still in progress.
The company behind the TWINT app, which allows a phone to scan a QR code on a retail terminal to make a payment, had complained that Apple Pay was making the app impossible to use. Any time an iPhone user brought their phone close enough to the payment terminal to scan the code, Apple Pay would automatically launch, effectively booting the TWINT app off the screen …
TWINT complained to the Swiss competition commission, WEKO, that Apple was guilty of anti-competitive practices.
WEKO says that the complaint has now been resolved, reports Reuters.
“Apple has committed to provide TWINT with the technical capability to suppress the automatic launch of Apple Pay during the payment process with the TWINT app,” WEKO said, adding it was ending a preliminary probe against Apple following the pact.
However, a report on MacPrime suggests that this may not be the end of Apple’s troubles with WEKO.
The Competition Commission continues to investigate whether Apple may continue to block the NFC chip in its mobile devices only for its own services such as Apple Pay or whether the company must unlock the chip for other services – such as other payment solutions. The Consumer Protection Foundation (SKS) filed a lawsuit with the WEKO in the summer of 2016.
Apple has offered apps the ability to suppress automatic Apple Pay activation since iOS 9.
Use this method […] in apps that are required to stay in the foreground when operating near NFC or other RF readers. This method prevents the iOS device from automatically displaying the Apple Pay passes when it detects a compatible reader. This suppression occurs only while the app is in the foreground. The Apple Pay interface is automatically reenabled when the app goes to the background; however, if the app resumes, the Apple Pay interface is automatically suppressed again.
However, the company does require developers to obtain permission to use the function. It’s not immediately clear why Apple would not have granted permission to TWINT from the start, but two possibilities come to mind.
First, it may be that TWINT was one of the companies trying to obtain access to the NFC chip, and Apple wasn’t willing to cooperate while that dispute was active. Second, banks and other financial institutions in Switzerland have been accused of deliberately boycotting Apple Pay in order to boost usage of TWINT, so Apple may not have felt inclined to cooperate with the organization. The competition commission is still investigating that accusation.
But for now, Swiss iPhone users who want to use a clunky QR-based system in place of the more secure Apple Pay option – or whose bank gives them no choice – should be able to do so.