Apple is going to be hit once again by the European Union. This time with accusations that Apple Pay is anti-competitive.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, launched an antitrust investigation into Apple Pay in 2020. Officials stated at the time that the probe would examine “alleged restrictions of access to Apple Pay” that may have limited competitors’ ability to access the service.
A key focus of the investigation is the near field communication, or NFC, chip included in iPhones. Apple Pay uses the chip to let consumers make contactless payments in stores by holding their device close to a card reader. Certain key NFC features of Apple devices can only be used by Apple Pay, while third-party apps such as competing digital wallets have access to a more limited feature set.
Apple Pay is one of the most popular digital wallets in the world as usage of cash has declined and digital wallets usage has increased due to convenience and security.
According to the Financial Times, the antitrust charges that the EU is preparing to bring against Apple will relate to the NFC technology that powers Apple Pay’s in-store payment features. Officials will reportedly accuse Apple of unfairly blocking PayPal Holdings Inc. and leading banks from accessing Apple Pay.
The flip side is that firms like Apple have invested and innovated to provide these new products that create enormous value for their users. Apple is well-known for simple and secure devices that protect user data. As usual, the EUs attack on Apple may end up harming consumers more than it boosts competition.
While the Antitrust charges have yet to be announced expectations are they will be coming soon.