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The EU accuses Apple of restricting rivals’ access to payment technology

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the Vanity Fair Oscar party 2022 following the 94th Academy Awards at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California on March 27, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Europe’s antitrust regulator accused Apple of restricting competitors’ access to their payment technology, a move that could potentially force it to change the way the company’s system works and open it up to a large fine.

The European Commission said in a press release on Monday that it had “informed Apple of its preliminary perception that it was abusing its dominant position in the mobile wallet markets on iOS devices.”

The statement of objections provided by the Commission to Apple outlines alleged breaches of Europe’s antitrust rules but does not necessarily determine the final outcome of the investigation. Apple will have the opportunity to review and respond to the Commission’s findings.

The Commission, the EU’s executive body, wrote that it had found that Apple had restricted competition in the mobile wallet market on its iPhone operating system by restricting the technology used for contactless payments, known as near-field communication (NFC). ).

“In our statement of objections, we tentatively found that Apple may have restricted competition in favor of its own solution, Apple Pay,” said Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s chief competition officer and executive vice president, in a statement. “If it is confirmed, such conduct will be illegal under our competition rules.”

The Commission argued that Apple’s decision not to make its NFC technology available to third-party mobile wallet app developers “has an exclusive effect on competitors and leads to less innovation and fewer options for consumers for mobile wallets on iPhones.”

“Apple Pay is just one of many options available to European consumers to make payments, and has ensured equal access to NFC, while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security,” said a spokesman for Apple. in a statement Monday. “We will continue to engage with the Commission to ensure that European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment.”

Apple also expressed concern that changes to their payment system could result in a less secure process.

The Commission has separately examined Apple’s rules for developers who want to distribute apps on iOS. Europe also recently reached agreement on new rules under the Digital Markets Act, which seek to limit the dominance of digital platforms that act as gatekeepers for key services.

Similarly, U.S. lawmakers have looked at Apple’s treatment of app developers and proposed new rules that would require Apple and others to provide a more open environment for potential rivals seeking to distribute apps on their phones.

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