It’s the start of the Commission’s antitrust investigation into Apple’s payment policies.
While the European Commission continues to investigate whether Apple abused its market dominance by limiting mobile payments on iOS devices, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager confirmed today that the iPhone maker has been formally charged, which could result in a hefty fine if the charge is upheld.
Vestager said in a statement that the European Commission has “indications that Apple blocked third-party access to crucial technology necessary to develop competitor mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices,” and that the corporation “may have hampered competition, to the benefit of its own solution.”
Developers have been denied “access to the essential hardware and software” to establish their own NFC payment systems on Apple devices, according to the Commission’s Statement of Objections. Although contactless payments are ubiquitous in Europe, Apple Pay remains the only contactless option for iPhone and iPad in-store payments.
“Apple Pay is only one of several payment alternatives accessible to European consumers,” Apple said in a statement. “Apple Pay has provided equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security.” “We will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that European consumers have access to their preferred payment option in a safe and secure environment.”
In June 2020, the Commission launched a joint investigation into Apple’s in-app and NFC payment systems, claiming that the company’s decision could hinder competition and hence reduce consumer choice. According to the Commission, today’s announcement solely concerns “NFC input by third-party developers of mobile wallets for payments in stores,” not “online limitations against Apple Pay” or “refusals of access to Apple Pay” for rival services.
Apple has previously stated that in order to improve security, it restricts third-party access to contactless payments. It argues that its own technology, which uses a secure chip inside the iPhone antenna, prevents fraudulent purchases.
Apple’s Statement of Objections contains a list of exceptions that it claims violate EU antitrust guidelines. The corporation will now be asked to respond to the objections mentioned and request a meeting with regulators, which means an official decision could take some time.