Apple accused by Brussels of abusing its dominant position in contactless payments

Apple accused by Brussels of abusing its dominant position in contactless payments

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Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President of the European Commission, during a press conference on 2 May in Brussels.

The European Commission on Monday (May 2nd) accused the American giant Apple of obstructing competition in contactless payment systems by imposing the Apple Pay service on its mobile phone users. The European executive thus estimated, in a press release, that the manufacturer of the iPhone “Abused its dominant position in the mobile wallet markets” preventing competing solutions from working on its devices.

Brussels, which plays the role of guardian of competition in the European Union (EU), had already pinned Apple last year for anti-competitive practices in the online music market, one of many archives opposed by US tech giants.

As for Apple Pay, the Commission had launched an investigation in June 2020. On Monday, it informed Apple in writing of its complaints. This is a formal step that does not prejudge the outcome of this research. The company now has access to the file and will be able to respond to the allegations made.

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“Closed ecosystem around its devices”

Apple Pay, released in 2014, allows Apple device owners to make in-store payments simply by holding their device close to the terminals used for credit cards. The market for e-wallet applications is growing rapidly. It is also sought after by rival Google Pay and various start-ups.

“We have evidence that Apple has restricted third-party access to the core technology required to develop competitive mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices. (…) for the benefit of Apple Pay, its exclusive solution “said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at a press conference.

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

Brussels “Challenges Apple’s decision to exclude application developers” competitive “To access the necessary hardware and software on its devices”. apple has created a closed ecosystem around its devices and the iOS operating system. “Apple controls the gates of this ecosystem, setting the rules of the game for anyone who wants to get there.” its users, complained M.my Vestager.

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The California group is also one of the main targets of the new European Digital Markets Act (DMA), finalized in late March, which aims to prevent industry giants from evicting smaller players. by unfair methods.

No deadline has been set for further investigation

“Mobile payments are the future. (…) “We can not allow Apple to build a monopoly on such a critical new market at the expense of consumers and traders.”Conservative MEP Markus Ferber (EPP) reacted, demanding “The highest possible sentence”. “A company like Apple should not escape again with a simple blow to the wrist”he added.

For its part, Apple justifies access restrictions with a view to ensuring the safety of its customers. “Apple Pay is just one of the many options European consumers have 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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There is no deadline for the continuation of the EU investigation. If Apple is found guilty, it will have to rectify its practices otherwise it will face fines of up to 10% of its annual turnover.

The world with AFP

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