In a nutshell: Apple’s antitrust issues continue with EU regulators determining that Cupertino’s near-field communication policies fail to pass anticompetition muster. The European Commission believes that the tech giant should share its NFC APIs with competing wallet apps. Of course, Apple thinks that would be a significant security issue.
On Monday, the European Commission (EC) issued a statement of objections against Apple restricting NFC payment capabilities exclusively to its Apple Pay service. According to the commission, it is an abuse of the company’s dominant position and is against European Union (EU) competition laws. The determination comes on the heels of a probe initiated last week looking into the matter.
In a preliminary conclusion, commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said some payment services canceled plans for NFC payment functionality because they wouldn’t be able to reach iPhone users. The commission believes other payment services should have access to the same functionality as Apple Pay.
Apple Pay is easily the biggest NFC-based mobile wallet on the market. The EC could determine that Apple reached that top position by blocking other apps on iPhone from accessing the technology Apple Pay uses, which would be an illegal abuse of a dominant position. In that case, Apple could face tens of billions of dollars in fines.
The Guardian notes that Apple issued a statement explaining Apple Pay’s emphasis is on ease and security for customers. The company contends that allowing third parties to use NFC payments would make iPhones less safe. Apple also claimed it had not blocked other payment services from using NFC but did not offer specifics.
“We designed Apple Pay to provide an easy and secure way for users to digitally present their existing payment cards and for banks and other financial institutions to offer contactless payments for their customers,” said the spokesperson. “Apple Pay is only one of many options available to European consumers for making payments and has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security.”
Apple has had an ongoing struggle with European regulators. Recently the Authority for Consumers and Markets forced Apple to let Dutch dating apps handle payments outside of Apple’s payment processor. The EU is also currently deciding on a law that may force Apple to allow sideloading on its devices.