According to a report late last week, the European Commission officially announced Apple has issued a statement of objections to its restrictions that prevent third-party services from accessing the NFC capabilities of the iPhone, thereby restricting competition in mobile wallets on iOS.
The statement is a preliminary approach that will need to be confirmed with further investigation before the results can be administered, but it determines the direction in which the investigation is being conducted.
The European Commission has informed Apple of its preliminary opinion that it has abused its dominant position in the mobile wallet markets on iOS devices. By limiting access to a standard technology used for contactless mobile payments in stores (‘near-field communication (NFC)’ or ‘tap and go’), Apple restricts competition in the mobile wallet market on iOS.
The Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Margaret Vestager, says that NFC access is a necessity For viable mobile wallet services at physical locations.
Our concerns relate to Apple’s decision to block access to NFC technology for payment purposes and to use it only for its mobile wallet, Apple Pay. As a result, Apple device users can only make tap-and-go payments using Apple Pay and not other wallets. This is because competing wallet developers require NFC access on Apple devices to access Apple users.
Mobile payment app is expensive to develop. The investment can be worthwhile only if developers can reach Apple and Android customers. Evidence in our file indicates that some developers did not pursue their plans because they could not reach iPhone users. This behavior stifled innovation and hindered competition in the mobile wallet market. As a result, European consumers have few options for mobile payment solutions when paying in stores.
Vestager noted that Apple cited security as a justification for not allowing third-party access to NFC, but a regulatory investigation found no evidence of such a risk.