Infotech Brussels accuses Apple of abusing its dominant position on contactless payments

Brussels accuses Apple of abusing its dominant position on contactless payments

The European Commission on Monday (May 2) accused the American giant Apple of blocking competition in contactless payment systems, by imposing its Apple Pay service on users of its mobile phones.

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The EU executive estimated that the manufacturer of the iPhone “abused its dominant position in the mobile wallet markets” by preventing competing solutions from working on its devices.

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The Commission, guardian of competition in the EU, had already pinned Apple last year for anti-competitive practices in the online music market, one of the many files having opposed it to American giants of technology.

Restriction of access to competitors

Regarding Apple Pay, Brussels opened an investigation in June 2020 after complaints from European banks. This Monday, she informed Apple in writing of the grievances against her. This is a formal step that does not prejudge the outcome of the investigations. The company now has access to the file and will be able to respond to the accusations made.

Launched in 2014, this service allows holders of Apple brand devices to make payments in stores by simply holding their device near the terminals used for credit cards.

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“We have evidence that Apple has restricted third-party access to key technology needed to develop competing mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices. […] for the benefit of Apple Pay »said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at a press conference.

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Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution to have access to the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology fitted to the iPhone or iPad to exchange the data necessary for contactless payment in stores or online, underlines the Commission. Thus, any bank wishing to use this technology on these devices must go through Apple Pay, for a fee.

“Closed ecosystem”

“Apple has built a closed ecosystem around its iOS devices and operating system. Apple controls the gates of this ecosystem, setting the rules of the game for anyone who wants to reach” its users, lamented Margrethe Vestager.

The Californian group is also one of the main targets of the new European regulation on digital markets (“Digital Markets Act”, DMA), finalized at the end of March, which aims to prevent the giants of the sector from ousting smaller players by unfair methods.

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For its part, Apple justifies access restrictions by its concern to ensure security for its customers. “Apple Pay is just one of many options for European consumers to make payments”reacted the brand to the apple, in a press release. “We will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment”she added.

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No deadline has been set for the continuation of the EU investigation. If Apple is found guilty, it will have to remedy its practices or face fines of up to 10% of its annual turnover.

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