Apple ready to open its phones to competing payment systems

Accused of restricting competition in contactless payment systems on its phones, Apple is ready to accept services competing with Apple Pay in the European Union (EU), the European Commission announced on Friday January 19, which will evaluate this proposition.

“To allay the Commission’s competition fears”Apple has proposed offering third-party providers access to NFC functionality on its iPhones (near field communicationor “near field communication”) which allows communication between devices and payment terminals in stores, the European executive explained in a press release.

To make payments, users will have the choice between Apple Pay and several other applications. This commitment would be valid for ten years throughout the European Economic Area (EEA, i.e. the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). It would affect all users of the iOS operating system with an Apple ID in these countries.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers French banks end up giving in to Apple Pay

The European Commission, competition watchdog in the EU, announced that it invited all interested parties to present their observations on the commitments offered by Apple, within one month. In May 2022, the European executive accused Apple of blocking competition in contactless payment systems on its phones. Brussels opened an investigation in June 2020 after complaints from European banks.

Stricter rules to stem anti-competitive practices

The solution, proposed by the Cupertino group, is to allow systems competing with its in-house system to access the NFC functionality for free. “through a set of application programming interfaces (API) »detailed the Commission. “Apple would create the necessary APIs to allow equivalent access to NFC components”, with technology that allows “securely store payment credentials”she subsequently pointed out.

Apple iPhones run exclusively on the iOS operating system developed by the Apple brand. They form a “closed ecosystem”, of which the company controls all parameters. Apple Pay is currently the only mobile wallet solution working on Apple devices, the group having never allowed other application developers to access it.

“We have proposed commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments. (…) separately from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet »confirmed the group, contacted by Agence France-Presse, while emphasizing that its own Apple Pay application would always remain “a widely available option”.

Apple and five other digital giants – Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft as well as the Chinese ByteDance, owner of TikTok – will be subject to the new digital markets regulation (DMA) from the beginning of March, which introduction of stricter rules to curb anti-competitive practices in the EU.

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers Apple becomes the world number one in smartphones and dethrones Samsung

The World with AFP