The European Union finds that Apple abused its dominant position by limiting competitors’ access to its Apple Pay mobile payment system
BRUSSELS – The European Union stepped up its antitrust case against Apple on Monday, accusing the company of abusing its dominant position by limiting access to technologies that allow contactless payment.
The executive arm of the 27-nation bloc, the European Commission, has been investigating Apple since 2020. The commission’s preliminary view is that the company restricts competition by preventing developers of mobile wallet apps from accessing hardware and necessary software on Apple devices.
Mobile wallets rely on Near Field Communication, or NFC, which uses a chip in the mobile device to communicate wirelessly with a merchant’s payment terminal.
The commission said Apple Pay is by far the largest NFC-based mobile wallet on the market and accused the company of denying others access to the popular technology.
“Apple has built a closed ecosystem around its devices and operating system, iOS. And Apple controls the gates of this ecosystem, setting the rules of the game for anyone who wants to reach consumers using Apple devices,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “By excluding others from the game, Apple has unfairly protected its Apple Pay wallets. competition.”
The commission did not specify the amount of the fines if the charges against Apple were ultimately confirmed.
Apple responded in a statement that it “will continue its dialogue with the Commission to ensure European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment.”
The case is one of several EU investigations targeting Apple. EU regulators are also looking into whether the company violated the bloc’s antitrust laws by distorting competition for music streaming by imposing unfair rules for competing services in its App Store.
The commission said Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution that can access the necessary NFC input on iOS and faulted Apple for not making it available to third-party app developers.
Apple responded by saying its digital wallet service “is just 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 safety”.
Vestager said the EU takes security issues very seriously, but insisted the bloc’s investigation had not uncovered evidence that security risks would increase if access was granted to third.
“To the contrary, the evidence in our filing indicates that Apple’s conduct cannot be justified by security concerns,” she said.
Lorne Cook in Brussels and Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this report.