The issue centers on Apple Pay, which customers can use via the iPhone’s near field communication chip. That allows them to tap to pay, something that isn’t available for rival services, such as PayPal. Apple is planning to
The situation would seem to create an unequal playing field, EU regulators said.
“We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices,” EU antitrust chief
The decision to ramp up its probe comes weeks after the EU approved sweeping new rules to rein in how U.S. tech firms operate in the region. The
The Apple Pay probe was one of two cases that the European Commission
Apple defends its approach by noting the popularity of rival services on the iPhone. That includes PayPal, which is widespread in Europe, and some other options that are more popular than Apple Pay in certain European countries: MobilePay (Denmark), Swish (Sweden) and Payconiq (Belgium).
The company also said it gives all banks equal access to the payment system, with 2,500 banks in Europe connected, as well as smaller fintech companies and upstart financial services.
“We designed Apple Pay to provide an easy and secure way for users to digitally present their existing payment cards and for banks and other financial institutions to offer contactless payments for their customers,” Apple said in a statement, saying it will “continue to engage with the commission to ensure European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment.”
The EU move could pave the way for multibillion-euro fines and an order to change how Apple does business. But the company will have the chance to contest the EU’s findings in writing and at a hearing.
(Updates with more on Apple’s technology starting in third paragraph.)
--With assistance from
Peter Chapman, Nick Turner
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