Apple has been charged with breaking the European Union (EU)’s competition laws for allegedly taking advantage of Apple Pay’s dominant position in the mobile payments space to limit competitors’ access to contactless payments technology — reports The Financial Times.
In a Monday statement, the European Commission raised concerns that Apple may be preventing rivals from accessing the “tap and go” chips or near-field communication (NFC) technology on its devices to secure more market share for its own payment solution, Apple Pay.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s tech chief and executive vice president in charge of competition policy, said the Commission had “indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices.”
“Such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules,” said Vestager. If the allegations hold up, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant could be slapped with fines worth up to 10% of its global turnover. For its fiscal first quarter of 2022 alone, Apple reported a whopping $123.9 billion USD in revenue.
“Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape,” concluded Vestager.
Apple has been under the antitrust microscope across the globe as of late, especially with regards to its App Store and the (up to 30%) commission the company exacts from every transaction made through it.
The latest charges come just over a month after the EU approved two landmark pieces of legislation. One of the approved bills was the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which seeks to force Apple to allow app sideloading and third-party app stores in an attempt to weaken the iPhone maker’s iron grip over app distribution on its devices.
In its preliminary findings to support the latest charges, Brussels said it considered that Apple “enjoys significant market power in the market for smart mobile devices and a dominant position on mobile wallet markets.”
The findings of the investigation added: “Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution that may access the necessary NFC input on iOS. Apple does not make it available to third-party app developers of mobile wallets. The NFC ‘tap and go’ technology is embedded on Apple mobile devices for payments in stores.”
Apple has responded to the allegations, saying:
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.
We will continue to engage with the commission to ensure European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment.