EU Plans to Hit Apple With Antitrust Charges Over Apple Pay

The European Commission is planning to charge Apple with anticompetitive behavior with regards to Apple Pay, since it is the only payment service that can use the iPhone‘s Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip, Reuters reports.



EU antitrust investigator Margrethe Vestager has been investigating ‌Apple Pay‌ since June last year, but the European Commission has since centered its focus on the NFC chip alone, according to individuals familiar with the matter speaking to Reuters.

The NFC chip in the ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch enables tap-and-go contactless payments, but ‌Apple Pay‌ is the only payment service that can use this hardware. On Android devices, multiple payment services can offer contactless payments using the NFC chip, but on the ‌iPhone‌, no rival services are allowed to leverage the NFC hardware.

The Commission’s preliminary concerns also reportedly include Apple’s terms and conditions on how ‌Apple Pay‌ should be used in merchants’ apps and on websites. Concerns may have been raised by ‌Apple Pay‌’s wide reach and better user experience on the ‌iPhone‌ compared to other services, and accelerated by the growth of contactless payments during the global health crisis.

The EU competition enforcer is now believed to be preparing a statement of objections to charge Apple with anticompetitive conduct, which is expected to be sent to the company next year. The antitrust charge could put Apple at risk of a large fine and force it to open the NFC chip to rival payment systems in Europe. Similar investigations have also been opened in Australia.

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