The European Commission announced today that it has sent a “Statement of Objections” to Apple with the preliminary view that the company’s Apple Pay mobile wallet solution has abused its dominant position. The Commission has pointed out the fact that Apple has refused to let mobile wallet app developers access the NFC input on its iPhones, which is restricted to Apple’s own Apple Pay solution.
“We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices. In our Statement of Objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules,” explained Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President of the EU Commission in charge of competition policy.
Apple’s argument to restrict its NFC technology to Apple Pay is that it benefits the security of iOS users, but Vestager dismissed that. “Our investigation to date did not reveal any evidence that would point to such a higher security risk. On the contrary, evidence on our file indicates that Apple’s conduct cannot be justified by security concerns,” she explained during a news conference.
The sending of a Statement of Objections is an important initial step in the opening of a formal antitrust investigation by the European Commission. If Apple’s access restrictions to its mobile payment technology are found the break the EU’s competition rules, the company could be facing a fine of up to 10% of its global turnover, or $36.6 billion based on the company’s revenue last year.
In a statement shared with Reuters, Apple pretty much said that it doesn’t see its Apple Pay solution as a monopoly. “Apple Pay is only one of many options available to European consumers for making payments, and has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security,” the company said in a statement.