Brussels sees signs that the company has limited third-party access to its terminal technology, an illegal practice in Europe
The European Commission sees indications that point to abuse by Apple in its mobile payment system. In its preliminary report, Brussels estimates that the US company uses its dominant position by limiting access to NFC wireless technology -necessary for payments via mobile phone-, which, in practice, harms competition and favors the Apple Pay service.
“We see indications that Apple restricts third party access to technology needed to develop alternative mobile wallet solutions on its devices,” said European Commission Vice President and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
According to the Brussels investigation, which began in June 2020, the tech giant does not allow or restrict developer access to technology used in contactless payments. In this way, its solution -Apple Pay- is the only alternative with access to the NFC mechanism in the company's terminals and in those that use the iOS operating system.
Furthermore, any company that wants to develop an application that accesses the NFC technology of Apple devices must pay a sum of money to the company. If the suspicions of the Community Executive are confirmed, “it would be illegal conduct within our competition rules,” Vestager added.
According to the company, the restrictions on this technology respond to security reasons and seek to preserve user data. The European Commission, however, does not share this opinion and its vice president assured that the EU takes "security very seriously". In its preliminary investigation, the Community Executive has not found "any evidence that points to such a risk."
Instead, Apple's intention to create "a closed ecosystem", "setting the rules of the game" and preventing competition from reaching its users, which is an illegal practice within the EU, has been observed.
Brussels fears that these limitations exclude competition, weaken innovation in a field with great potential for development and undermine the ability of consumers to choose when it comes to payment with iPhone terminals.
Sending the statement of accusations will give the technological giant access to all the documentation. The next step in the procedure includes a written response from Apple to the European accusations, a process that does not have a closed calendar.
This is one of the numerous cases opened in the community bloc to digital platforms so that they comply with community regulations. In the case of Apple, Brussels is carrying out several investigations into its system for streaming music and selling and distributing digital books.