Apple offers rivals access to mobile payment tech in EU antitrust case

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Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the “Senior Chinese Leader Event” held by the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week in San Francisco, California, on November 15, 2023.
Carlos Barria | AFP | Getty Images

Apple has offered to give rivals the ability to access and interoperate with its contactless payment tech in an effort to appease antitrust regulators in Europe.

Apple Pay, the company’s mobile wallet feature, allows users to make purchases by simply tapping their iPhones, which run on Apple’s operating system called iOS. Since Apple controls this operating system exclusively, third-party mobile wallet developers’ access to its payment technology has previously been restricted.

In 2022, the European Commission found that since Apple Pay is the only option available to iPhone users, “such exclusionary conduct may restrict competition in the market for mobile wallets on iOS devices.” As a result, Apple proposed a series of commitments to address the Commission’s concerns.

Apple said it will allow third-party developers to gain access to the mobile payment technology, provide new features for users like defaulting to preferred payment apps and apply “non-discriminatory eligibility criteria” for rival developers.

“Through our ongoing discussions with the European Commission, we have offered commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS apps, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.

The Commission said Friday that the changes would remain in place for 10 years. It is looking for feedback on the solutions Apple has proposed.

If Apple’s commitments assuage European regulators’ competition concerns, the Commission will adopt them and legally require Apple to implement the changes. If the company fails to comply, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its total revenue.

Apple is also facing pressure from antitrust regulators in the U.S., as the Department of Justice is reportedly shoring up a case against the company, according to a report from Bloomberg. The DOJ’s case reportedly centers around software and hardware limitations on iPads and iPhones that restrict competition.

The DOJ could reportedly file the suit against Apple within first quarter, the report said.

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