European Commission on Apple Pay: Brussels accuses Apple of violating competition

Status: 02/05/2022 1:29 p.m.

Apple is threatened with high antitrust fines in the EU. The European Commission sees indications that competitors are being restricted when making mobile payments with iPhones. The American group is abusing its market power.

According to preliminary investigations by the European Commission, the American company Apple is violating European competition rules. The company is accused of restricting access to standard contactless payment technology with mobile devices and thus restricting competition in the field of mobile wallets in favor of its own Apple Pay solution, the authority said.

The European Commission has informed the US tech giant of its preliminary view “that the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices”. iOS is Apple’s operating system.

No alternative to Apple Pay on iPhones

Specifically, it is the allegation that iPhone owners can only use Apple Pay for payment transactions and not offers from alternative providers. The Commission had already initiated the procedure in June 2020.

“For the integration of European payment markets, it is important that consumers reap the benefits of a competitive and innovative market environment,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition.

Evidence of access restrictions

However, there is now evidence that Apple has restricted third-party access to key technologies needed to develop competing mobile wallets for Apple devices. “Such behavior would be a violation of our competition rules,” Vestager said.

Apple now has the ability to comment on complaints. If the Commission then sticks to its assessment, it could open a formal competition procedure. The group could then face a hefty fine.

Imminent fine for Apple

If companies breach EU competition rules, they risk fines of up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover. Banks, among others, have long been at a disadvantage when it comes to contactless payments on the iPhone. They especially criticize the fact that Apple cannot access the NFC radio chip, which allows the phone to be used at the checkout instead of a bank card.

Apple Pay is the only way to access the NFC chip on iPhones. Apple sees it as a technical solution to ensure payment security and guarantees that anyone who wants to access Apple Pay will get it.

With the submission of objections, the European Commission is continuing the proceedings against Apple. Last year, she officially accused Apple of unfair competition in its iPhone and iPad app store. As a result, Apple puts other music streaming app providers at a disadvantage and therefore has to fear a sanction.

distortion of competition? The European Commission attacks Apple

Stephan Ueberbach, ARD Brussels, May 2, 2022, 1:53 p.m.

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