Korean Tech Firms Considering Legal Action Against Apple over NFC Chip Policy

A group of South Korean finTech (financial technology) firms, including Hankook NFC, Kona I, Cashbee and law firm Tech&Law are allegedly preparing to file a complaint with the Korean Fair Trade Commission against Apple over its policy to lock down the NFC chip to its own mobile payments service, Apple Pay (via the Korea Herald, Patently Apple).

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The firms have apparently taken a page from the Australian banks, which filed a complaint with the country’s anti-trust regulator over the same policy, asking for permission to negotiate as a block with Apple, and are likely to force the iPhone maker to grant access to the NFC chip incorporated in the iPhone 6 or newer.

While the Korean media doesn’t mention the existence of an actual filing, it says the participating Korean firms are complaining that Apple has blocked “other mobile services providers from accessing the NFC fitted on its smartphones by not opening its application programing interface to other companies.”

Credit card companies such as KB Kookmin Card, Samsung Card and BC Card were unable to access the NFC chip of the iPhone, so their NFC-based payments services don’t work with the Apple handset.

An attorney for Tech&Law criticized Apple’s policy and said it is breaching consumer’s rights to utilize services and hence “limiting fair competition with other finTech services providers utilizing Apple’s iOS platform.”

Apple has previously stated clearly that it won’t open up its NFC chip API to third-party services. It may have to repeat that message once again in South Korea.