EU antitrust regulators are set to charge Apple with anti-competitive practices in regards to the NFC chip inside iPhones and Apple Pay. According to a report from Reuters, charges are being finalized now and could be sent to Apple as soon as sometime next year.
The European Commission first opened its investigation into Apple Pay and the iPhone’s NFC chip last year. At the time, the commission said that the investigation would focus on whether Apple unfairly locked out competing contactless payment services by restricting the use of the NFC chip inside iPhones.
Today’s report says that EU antitrust regulators are set to charge Apple with “anti-competitive practices related to its NFC chip technology.” While details are unclear, the charges “could force” Apple to “open up its mobile payment system to rivals.”
“The EU competition enforcer is now drafting a so-called statement of objections setting out its concerns which is expected to be sent to Apple next year,” today’s report from Reuters says.
While Apple has slowly opened up access to the NFC in the iPhone over the years, third parties are still significantly hindered in comparison to Apple Pay integration with iOS. For instance, when an iPhone comes near an NFC reader, the Wallet and Apply Pay interface is immediately shown, something that is not possible for third parties.
Earlier this year, EU antitrust regulators said that the App Store is in breach of competition law, specifically in regards to streaming music services. Following complaints from Spotify, EU competition commission Margrethe Vestager said that Apple unfairly favors Apple Music over rival streaming services due to the fees imposed on App Store applications.
Competition head Vestager has also expressed concerns around antitrust with Siri, saying that the EU has heard from more than 200 companies with complaints about certain exclusivity and tying practices related to voice assistants. No official charges have been filed here yet, though.
Notably, Cook reportedly met with Vestager in New York City earlier this week, though details of that meeting remain unclear. It’s hard to imagine that today’s NFC complaint didn’t come up in conversation, though.
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