The European Union shared a Statement of Objections earlier today in which it criticizes how Apple restricts the NFC technology on the iPhone to its own payments platform. Now a report from Bloomberg reveals that PayPal was one of the companies that supported the EU’s antitrust complaints against Apple Pay.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report claims that PayPal helped “spur a formal antitrust complaint” against Apple and Apple Pay with the European Commission. PayPal, which offers an NFC-based “tap-to-pay” feature for Android users, is not allowed to offer the same option on the iPhone.
However, Bloomberg says that PayPal was only “one of multiple companies” that made formal complaints about the situation to the European Commission.
iPhone 6 was the first Apple smartphone to feature NFC technology, which allows data transmission between two devices when they are in close proximity to each other. However, NFC on the iPhone was exclusive to Apple Pay, the company’s platform that lets users register their credit and debit cards to pay in stores using their phone or Apple Watch.
In 2017, Apple partially opened up access to the iPhone’s NFC chip to developers with iOS 11. However, the company never allowed payment apps to use this API. In a recent statement, Apple said that Apple Pay is “only one of many options available to European consumers for making payments,” although it’s the only one that works with NFC on the iPhone.
Earlier this year, Apple announced “Tap to Pay” for iPhone, which turns the phone into a contactless card terminal for receiving payments via third-party apps. However, this still doesn’t let other apps provide their own NFC payment solutions on iPhone.
While today’s EU statement is only a “preliminary view,” it’s becoming clear that Apple will face a number of challenges when it comes to restricting features from its devices to its own platforms. There’s a possibility that, in the future, Apple will be forced to open up NFC to any developer.
As suggested by 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy, Apple could easily get rid of all the antitrust allegations by dropping some of these restrictions on developers, while also letting users choose which apps they want to use as default. However, it doesn’t seem that Apple is willing to give up so easily.
Personally, I don’t think opening up the iOS ecosystem would hurt users or even Apple itself. As Lovejoy said, most users would probably keep using Apple’s services as default. And in terms of security, I’m sure the company has ways to ensure that only legitimate payment apps have access to the NFC API.
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