Apple risks a heavy fine and may have to open its mobile payment system to competitors. EU antitrust authorities have accused the iPhone maker of restricting rivals’ access to its technology used for mobile wallets.
This is the second charge brought by the European Union against Apple. Last year, European regulators accused the company of distorting competition in the music streaming market, following a complaint filed by Spotify.
The European Commission said on Monday that it had sent Apple a charge sheet, known as a Statement of Objections, detailing how the company abused its dominant position in the markets for mobile wallets for iOS devices.
The Commission said Apple’s anti-competitive practices dated back to 2015, when Apple Pay was launched.
“We have indications that Apple has restricted third-party access to key technologies needed to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices.“, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said in a statement.
“In our Statement of Objections, we found on a preliminary basis that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own Apple Pay solution“, she added.
Apple, which could be fined up to 10% of its global revenue or $36.6 billion based on its revenue from last year, though EU sanctions rarely reach that ceiling, said he would continue to engage with the Commission.
“Apple Pay is just one of many options for European consumers to make payments, and has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security.“, the company said in a statement.
Shares of Frankfurt-listed Apple fell on the news and were down 0.7% at 12:16 GMT.
Apple Pay is used by more than 2,500 banks in Europe and more than 250 fintechs and banking challengers. The NFC chip enables tap-and-go payments on iPhones and iPads.
Vestager rejected the company’s safety argument.
“Our investigation to date has not revealed any elements leading to the conclusion of such a high security risk. On the contrary, the elements in our file indicate that Apple’s behavior cannot be justified by security concerns.“, she said at a press conference.
Apple can request a closed hearing to defend its case and send a written response before the Commission makes its decision, which could take a year or more.
Next year, the European Union is expected to implement new technology rules, dubbed the “Digital Markets Act”, which will force Apple to open its closed ecosystem or face fines of up to 10% of its turnover. global.
The Commission’s decision to send its statement of objections to Apple confirms information published in October last year.
Source: The European Commission
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