The EU says that it has come to the preliminary view that Apple unfairly abused its dominant position in the ‘market for mobile wallets’ by restricting access to the NFC chip to third-parties, thereby elevating the adoption of Apple Pay.
The EU says that Apple restricts competition by reserving full access to NFC technology on the iPhone to its own service, Apple Pay.
They say this has an caused an ‘exclusionary effect on competitors’ and resulted in less consumer choice for mobile wallets. The practice of restricting access to key technology, thereby eliminating the opportunity for rivals to compete, would be illegal under EU competition rules.
A preliminary finding does not necessarily mean the EU will follow through with penalties. The first step of the procedure has taken place today, where the commission sends Apple its formal Statement of Objections and will give time for Apple to formulate a reply. The response will then be taken into consideration and the EU will decide whether to go ahead.
In a statement, Apple said:
“We designed Apple Pay to provide an easy and secure way for users to digitally present their existing payment cards and for banks and other financial institutions to offer contactless payments for their customers. 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.
A full resolution to this case will likely take many years. Apple is currently battling the EU commission on several fronts, including a claim that it unfairly favored Apple Music over rivals.
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