This file photo taken on May 30, 2019 shows the logo of American multinational technology company Apple in Milan. (MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)
BRUSSELS – Apple may be fined and forced to open its mobile payment system to competitors after the European Commission has charged the company of abusing its dominant position by limiting access to technologies allowing contactless payment.
Apple Pay is Apple's own mobile wallet solution on iPhones and iPads, used to enable mobile payments in physical stores and online
"Apple has built a closed ecosystem around its devices and its operating system, iOS. And Apple controls the gates to this ecosystem, setting the rules of the game for anyone who wants to reach consumers using Apple devices," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Monday.
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"By excluding others from the game, Apple has unfairly shielded its Apple Pay wallets from competition," she said.
Apple Pay is Apple's own mobile wallet solution on iPhones and iPads, used to enable mobile payments in physical stores and online.
The Commission had been investigating Apple since June 2020. Its preliminary view is that the firm is restricting competition by preventing mobile wallet app developers from accessing the necessary hardware and software on Apple devices.
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Mobile wallets use near-field communication which uses a chip in the mobile device to wirelessly communicate with a merchant's payment terminal.
The Commission holds that Apple is restricting competition in the mobile wallets market on iOS by limiting access to NFC, a standard technology used for contactless payments with mobile devices in stores.
Apple was sent a Statement of Objections to which it is expected to reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.
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Vestager said the Commission's investigation didn't reveal evidence that security risks would increase if access were to be granted to third parties.
"On the contrary, evidence on our file indicates that Apple's conduct cannot be justified by security concerns," she said.