Apple hit with EU antitrust charge over its payment technology

Apple was charged with restricting rivals’ access to its NFC chip technology by EU antitrust regulators on Monday, a move that could result in a heavy fine for the iPhone manufacturer and force it to open up its mobile payment system to competitors.

The European Commission announced that it had given Apple a charge sheet, also known as a statement of objections, outlining how the corporation had exploited its dominant position in the market for mobile wallets on iOS devices.

“We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“In our statement of objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay,” she said.

Apple stated that it would keep working with the Commission.

Apple Pay is just one of many payment alternatives available to Europeans, and it has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading privacy and security requirements.

The Commission’s decision to send Apple a charge sheet, also known as a statement of objections, backed up a Reuters report from October of last year.

Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service developed by Apple Inc. that allows users to pay in person, via iOS apps, and on the web using Safari. It works on iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. It isn’t compatible with any client device that isn’t manufactured and marketed by Apple. At a contactless-capable point-of-sale terminal, it automates and can substitute a credit or debit card chip and PIN transaction.

It may be used with any merchant that supports contactless payments and does not require Apple Pay-specific contactless payment terminals. Touch ID, Face ID, PIN, or passcode are all options for two-factor authentication. Near-field communication (NFC) is used to connect devices to point-of-sale systems, and an embedded secure element (eSE) is used to securely store payment data and perform cryptographic operations, as well as Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID for biometric authentication.