As expected, the European Commission on Monday officially announced that it has issued a Statement of Objections to Apple over its limiting of third-party services’ access to the NFC capabilities of the iPhone, restricting competition in mobile wallets on iOS.
While the statement is a preliminary view and will need to be confirmed by additional investigation before consequences can be decided upon and administered, it does indicate where the investigation is headed.
The EC has informed Apple of its preliminary view that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices. By limiting access to a standard technology used for contactless payments with mobile devices in stores (‘Near-Field Communication (NFC)’ or ‘tap and go’), Apple restricts competition in the mobile wallets market on iOS.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
“Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European Payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape. We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices. 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.”
Vestager says that while Apple has cited security concerns as to its reasoning behind not allowing third-party access to NFC, regulators’ investigations have not found any evidence of that risk.