Apple reaches deal with EU regulators to open up mobile payments system to rivals

Apple reaches deal with EU regulators to open up mobile payments system to rivals

The European Union flag displayed on a mobile phone screen in front of the Apple logo on July 2, 2024.

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EU antitrust regulators on Thursday accepted commitments from Apple to allow access to its tap and go payments technology to rivals, bringing an end to a four-year investigation.

“The commission has decided to accept commitments offered by Apple. These commitments address our preliminary concerns that Apple may illegally have restricted competition when it comes to mobile wallets on iPhones,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference.

The EU formally launched an investigation relating to Apple Pay in 2020. The probe looked at the terms and conditions Apple sets for integrating Apple Pay in apps and websites as well as concerns around the tap and go technology and alleged refusals of accessing Apple Pay.

In 2022 the European Commission found that Apple Pay could restrict competition as it was the only option for iPhone users. Apple has since suggested several commitments to address the concerns and in January it offered to give its rivals access to its contactless payment and mobile wallet technology. 

Apple committed to allowing third-party developers access to NFC technology without charging them, providing access to key iPhone features like Face ID to competing payment wallets, and to allow users to set any wallet of their choice as the default option, Vestager explained.

Earlier this year the European Commission market tested Apple’s commitments to collect feedback on the proposals. Following its assessment, the commission concluded that Apple’s final commitments address concerns regarding the tech giant’s restrictions of allowing third-parties access to its tap and go payments technology. The changes have now been made legally binding on Apple.

“The commitments bring important changes to how Apple operates in Europe to the benefit of competitors and customers,” Vestager said.

“From now on, Apple can no longer use its control over the iPhone ecosystem to keep other mobile wallets out of the market. Competing wallet developers, as well as consumers, will benefit from these changes, opening up innovation and choice, while keeping payments secure,” she added.

The iPhone maker now has until July 25 to implement the commitments, Vestager said. All developers will then be able to offer mobile wallets for iPhones with the tap and go technology, she explained. The commitments are set to remain in effect for ten years.

“Apple is providing developers in the European Economic Area with an option to enable NFC contactless payments and contactless transactions for car keys, closed loop transit, corporate badges, home keys, hotel keys, merchant loyalty/rewards, and event tickets from within their iOS apps using Host Card Emulation based APIs,” Apple said in emailed comments.

It added that there would be no changes to Apple Pay or the Apple Wallet following the probe.