“The preliminary conclusion that we reached today relates to mobile payments in shops, by excluding others from the game,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said on Monday. “Apple has unfairly shielded its Apple Pay wallets from competition. If proven this behaviour would amount to abuse of a dominant position, which is illegal under our rules,” Vestager told reporters. The European Commission, the bloc’s competition watchdog, specifically charged the iPhone maker with preventing competitors trying to enter the contact-less market “from accessing the necessary hardware and software … to the benefit of its own solution, Apple Pay”.
According to the EU’s antitrust director, Apple ‘unfairly insulated its Apple Pay wallets from competition,’ in violation of the bloc’s competition regulations. On a smartphone, the Apple Pay logo is visible. On a smartphone, the Apple Pay logo is visible. The European Union has accused Apple of violating EU competition rules by barring competitors from using its popular “tap-as-you-go” iPhone payment system.
The accusation is the latest salvo against US tech giants by EU regulators, who have also taken aim at Apple’s music streaming and e-book businesses. The company is also a main target of the Digital Markets Act, a landmark EU law that will prohibit Apple and other US tech giants from privileging their own services in its products and platforms.
The technology at the heart of concerns in the Apple Pay case is “near-field communication”, or NFC, which permits devices to communicate within a very short range of each other, usually less than 10cm (four inches).
The EU’s outline of the case came after the commission launched an investigation in 2020 that was spurred by complaints from European banks that resist paying a fee to Apple in order to reach their customers via apps. The battle comes as tech giants eye personal finance as a new moneymaker, with Google, Amazon and Facebook owner Meta also seeking ways to replace credit cards or the need of carrying a wallet. Launched in 2014, Apple Pay allows iPhone or Apple Watch users to make payments at retailers by touching their devices to the same terminals currently used for credit and debit cards.