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Apple Pay, the tap-to-pay platform of tech giant Apple, is facing increasing antitrust scrutiny in the European Union (EU). According to a recent report by Bloomberg, the EU antitrust investigators are ramping up their probe into Apple Pay after requesting more information from retailers about the usage and availability of mobile payment platforms.
This is not the first time that the EU has targeted Apple for antitrust issues. A year ago, the EU announced its preliminary view that Apple had abused its dominant market position by restricting access to the iPhone’s NFC chip for mobile payment platforms. This, the EU claimed, reduces the ability of other payment platforms to compete with Apple, thus giving consumers fewer choices.
Recently, the European Commission sent out a series of questions to retailers regarding Apple Pay and other mobile payment platforms. With the information gathered, the Commission confirmed that it is examining other mobile payment technologies, such as QR codes and Bluetooth, as alternatives to Apple’s near-field communications chip.
Apple Pay allows consumers to store virtual debit and credit cards on iPhones, as well as ticket bookings. Its NFC chip allows payments to be processed via a card reader at a cash register. However, Apple maintains strong restrictions on access to the NFC antenna, setting high standards for rival payment providers. Competitors argue that these restrictions violate the EU’s competition rules.
Some consumers have also pushed back on mobile payment platforms based on QR code technology. For example, grocery chain Kroger recently adopted Apple Pay after its QR code-based “Kroger Pay” platform failed to gain momentum. Walmart, on the other hand, continues to push its QR code payment platform instead of Apple Pay, despite complaints from customers who would rather use Apple Pay.
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Apple has argued that opening the NFC chip to other companies for payment technology would pose security and privacy concerns. However, this is just one of many antitrust investigations that Apple is facing in the EU. The company is also accused of unfairly favoring Apple Music over rivals, as well as various claims about the App Store.