According to the European Commission, Apple has abused its dominant market position to prevent other mobile payment applications from accessing NFC on its devices.
The EU executive arm has sent a statement of objections to the iPhone maker in which it claims that Apple Pay benefited from the company’s decision to block developers of mobile wallet apps from accessing the necessary hardware and software.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager explained in a press release how Apple had stifled competition by preventing third parties from accessing NFC on its mobile devices, saying:
“Mobile payments are playing an increasingly important role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European payment markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payment landscape. We have indications that Apple has restricted third-party access to key technology needed to develop competing mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices. In our Statement of Objections, we found on a preliminary basis that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own Apple Pay solution. If confirmed, such conduct would be unlawful under our competition rules. »
Limit competition by restricting access to NFC
Apple Pay is Apple’s own mobile wallet solution on iPhone and iPad that can be used to enable mobile payments in physical and online stores and much like its hardware and software, the company controls all aspects of the user experience in its ecosystem, including mobile wallet developers. to access.
Specifically, Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution capable of accessing NFC input on iOS and iPadOS. However, NFC is a standardized technology that is available in almost all in-store POS systems and provides a more seamless and secure payment experience.
Although a full investigation has yet to be conducted, the European Commission currently believes that Apple’s dominant position in the mobile wallet market on iOS restricts competition by only allowing Apple Pay to access NFC. If confirmed, the company would violate Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which prohibits companies from abusing their dominant market position.
The European Commission also stresses that its Statement of Objections is not a sign that Apple is guilty, but merely a formal step in the investigation of whether or not Apple violated EU antitrust laws.
We’ll have to wait for the European Commission to conduct its full investigation, but Apple could face a hefty fine and the company would likely be required to open up NFC to other mobile wallet developers if found guilty.