EU regulators accused Apple of breaking competition law by abusing its dominant position in mobile payments to limit rivals’ access to contactless technology, as Brussels stepped up its challenge to one of the biggest tech groups. of the world.
Antitrust investigators are concerned that the world’s most valuable listed company is preventing competitors from accessing “tap-and-go” or near-field communication (NFC) chips to benefit its own Apple Pay system, the European Commission said in a statement. Monday.
Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president in charge of competition policy, said Brussels had “indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology needed to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices.”
She told reporters on Monday: “On a preliminary basis, we have found that Apple abused its dominant position. Apple restricted access to key inputs that are necessary to develop and run mobile payment applications, the so-called ‘mobile wallets’.”
If confirmed, “such conduct would be illegal under our competition rules,” Vestager added. The company could face fines worth up to 10 percent of global turnover if the charges are confirmed.
Apple Pay is used on hundreds of millions of iPhones and the EU charge is the latest in several antitrust investigations launched against the tech giant in Brussels.
Apple is also facing scrutiny for how it may be hurting rivals in the App Store by taking 30 percent of some subscription fees while denying some services the option to tell users there are other ways to update. The case was opened after streaming music service Spotify complained to the commission more than two years ago.
The new charges come after Brussels passed two landmark laws, including the Digital Markets Law, aimed at curbing the power of big tech groups. Legal restrictions have made the EU the center of a global regulatory crackdown on tech companies.
In its preliminary findings in the latest case, Brussels said it believed Apple “enjoys significant market power in the mobile smart device market and a dominant position in mobile wallet markets.”
The research findings added: “Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution that can access the necessary NFC input on iOS. Apple does not make it available to developers of third-party mobile wallet applications. NFC ‘touch and go’ technology is built into Apple mobile devices for in-store payments.”
Apple said: “We designed Apple Pay to provide an easy and secure way for users to digitally present their existing payment cards and for banks and other financial institutions to offer contactless payments for their customers. Apple Pay 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 security.
“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.”
Vestager said: “Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European payment markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payment landscape.”