Australian supermarket giant Coles and the Australian Retailers Association have announced their support for local banks’ fight against Apple’s policy to limit the use of the NFC chip incorporated into iPhones to Apple Pay.
You may recall that three of Australia’s four biggest banks, as well as Bendigo and Adelaide Bank urged the Australian anti-trust regulator to allow them to negotiate with Apple as a bloc, as they seek to get access to the iPhone’s (6 or later) NFC chip, currently limited to Apple’s own mobile payment solution.
Australian news outlet ITNews reports that both Coles and the Australian Retailers Association are backing the banks’ argument as they seek to provide more choice to consumers and industry innovation.
Coles says its investment in NFC technology has been well received by customers so far, so there is a need for a cross-platform solution. Since Apple limits the use of NFC chip to Apple Pay, banks and retailers can only provide their mobile payments service to Android customers.
The Australian Retailers Association has a rather interesting example in underpinning its position for a cross-platform solution:
“For example, Google Maps has been successful on both iOS and Android because it can access the GPS functionality of both platforms. This is not the case when it comes to accessing the near field communication (NFC) chip on Apple’s iOS.”
The Australian Retailers Association also points to the failed payments services that targeted iPhone users, as a reason for Apple to open its NFC chip to third party service providers.
Apple, on the other hand, cited security reasons for locking down the NFC chip and said that opening it would be an anti-competitive move for consumers, since these four banks make up 66% of Australian credit card balances and 70% of household deposits.
The “cartel” was seeking an interim approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to start the negotiations with Apple, but the regulator said it will refrain from allowing that, and will issue a final ruling sometime in October.