In a recent filing with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Apple fired back at a request by three of the top four Australian banks to be allowed to collectively negotiate for access to Apple’s NFC technology, used in Apple Pay. The Cupertino firm says such a move would not only harm consumers, but would also hamper mobile wallet innovation.
Australia’s “big-three” banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, initially lodged their application to negotiate in July. Among the numerous contingencies afforded as part of the request are terms for offering third-party mobile wallet services on Apple devices, the ability to charge consumers fees for using Apple Pay and a narrow set of security guidelines drafted by the banks.
The ACCC is in the process of deciding whether to allow Australian banks to act as a group to negotiate terms for access to Apple’s mobile wallet hardware in its iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple’s response to the request was made public on Monday.
“Apple expects that, if the boycott and collective negotiation conduct were permitted to occur, the banks involved will advance in lockstep with the slowest, least willing member of their cartel,” Apple said. “This delay is likely to harm consumers and slow the pace of innovation for mobile wallets in Australia.”
Apple maintains the banks are looking to further stall consumer adoption of Apple Pay, and other mobile payment technologies, in the country. The banks are requesting a three-year period to negotiate terms, a timeframe that Apple claims is intended to create yet another artificial barrier to widespread adoption of Apple Pay. (Three years is a lifetime in the tech world.)
Banks claim Australians have long been moving towards contactless payments, well before Apple debuted its payments solution in the country. A spokesman for the banks told AppleInsider:
“Apple’s submission to the ACCC makes it clear that Apple does not want to give iPhone users the ability to choose an integrated third party wallet of their own preference,” the spokesman said. “Unlike users of Samsung and Android, Apple is blocking access to the NFC function and wants to leave iPhone users with no choice but to use Apple Pay. Their submission to the ACCC claims this lack of choice is in the best interest of Australian consumers. The applicants disagree. Instead, they want to negotiate with Apple so there is an opportunity to offer other integrated wallets alongside Apple Pay.”
Australian retailers and payments associations have filed in support of joint negotiations, naming market stimulation, security and payments fees transparency, among others, as important consumer issues.
The ACCC is expected to announce a decision on the matter in October. In the meantime the banks are banned from negotiating a deal with Apple.