Apple to face EU antitrust charges for blocking third-party iPhone NFC payment technology apps

In short: Apple has handled many antitrust cases in its day, and now it’s ready to face another one. Cupertino is to be charged this week with breaching EU law over the way it operates the Apple Pay mobile payment system. If found guilty, the company could be hit with fines equal to 10% of its worldwide turnover.

The Financial Times writes that EU investigators led by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will accuse Apple of blocking third-party service providers, such as PayPal and major banks, from accessing its mobile wallet system.

The case, which was opened in 2020, relates specifically to Apple’s Near Field Communication (NFC) payment technology in iPhones. The company retains seamless contactless payments exclusively for its Apple Pay service. This means that PayPal, Venmo, and banks cannot offer a similar NFC experience to iPhone users through their own apps. Apple says allowing them full access would undermine the security and privacy of its users.

Apple is no stranger to EU antitrust allegations. It has been investigated for charging third parties a 30% fee for hosting their apps on the App Store while promoting its own competing services in the market. The commission concluded that Apple breached EU competition rules in April 2021.

Apple is also facing new antitrust charges in the European Union related to an earlier investigation into the operation and promotion of music streaming within the Apple ecosystem. The investigation was launched after a complaint filed by Spotify in 2019.

The EU recently approved the Digital Markets Act, which requires holders of platforms like Apple to allow people to download apps from third-party sources, or sideloading, a practice against which CEO Tim Cook has long rallied around because of the risk it apparently poses to users, and certainly not because it would cut into the money Apple makes on the App Store.

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