The EU hit Apple with an antitrust charge over Apple Pay

Business Insider US
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
  • The EU on Monday hit Apple with a preliminary antitrust complaint relating to Apple Pay.
  • It said Apple has a "dominant position" in the market for mobile wallets on iOS.
  • Apple "restricts competition" by reserving access to contactless NFC technology to Apple Pay, it said.
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The European Union on Monday hit Apple with a preliminary antitrust complaint relating to Apple Pay, the tech company's mobile payment system.

The commission said its "preliminary view" was that "Apple's dominant position in the market for mobile wallets on its operating system iOS, restricts competition, by reserving access to NFC technology to Apple Pay." NFC, or near-field communication, is used by Apple Pay to enable contactless payments. 

The commission continued: "This has an exclusionary effect on competitors and leads to less innovation and less choice for consumers for mobile wallets on iPhones." 

The European Commission has long been a thorn in the side of Big Tech, on several occasions accusing Silicon Valley companies of antitrust breaches and fining them billions of dollars.  

Apple already faces a separate EU antitrust charge relating to its App Store. The charges could ultimately lead to multibillion-dollar fines if substantiated.

Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Monday that the European Commission had sent to Apple a so-called "statement of objections," which outlines the preliminary conclusions reached by the bloc's antitrust investigators.

Vestager said: "We are concerned that Apple may have illegally distorted competition in the market for mobile wallets on Apple devices. Now Apple can answer our concerns."

In a statement to Reuters, Apple said: "Apple Pay is only 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 security."

In its statement, the commission said: "By limiting access to a standard technology used for contactless payments with mobile devices in stores…Apple restricts competition in the mobile wallets market on iOS."

Vestager said in a statement: "We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple's devices."

She added: "In our statement of objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules."

Apple did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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