“Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European Payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape,” Executive Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
The European Commission has released the preliminary findings of an antitrust investigation into Apple Pay on iOS devices. According to antitrust investigators, Apple abused its dominant position because competitors are unable to offer NFC-enabled contactless payments on the iPhone in order to develop other mobile wallets and compete fairly with Apple Pay. According to the Commission, NFC is a standard technology for contactless payments that should be available to everyone. Third-party developers can use APIs to read and write NFC tags, but they cannot use the NFC antenna in their apps to create Apple Pay competitors.
Today’s statement of objections is the result of an investigation that was formally opened in June 2020. At the time, the Commission announced it would look at Apple Pay as a whole. Apple Pay can also be used to pay online and in app. But the Commission now says the only issue is the restriction on NFC payments. “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 told Reuters in a statement.
“We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices. In our Statement of Objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules,” she added. According to Brussels regulators, the main issue is that NFC is available in almost all payments terminals but only Apple Pay can wirelessly communicate with payment terminals via NFC. It’s a standardized, safe and seamless way to pay, which could explain why Apple Pay gained market shares.