EU antitrust regulators are seeking more information on Apple’s mobile payment system, the European Commission said on Wednesday, a sign that the enforcer is looking to close any loopholes and boost its case against the iPhone maker.
The EU competition watchdog last year accused Apple of restricting rivals’ access to its tap-and-go technology, Near-Field Communication (NFC), used for mobile wallets, making it difficult for them to develop rival services on Apple devices.
“We can confirm the sending of requests for information,” a commission spokesperson said, while declining to provide details.
Apple declined to comment.
Apple has previously pointed to PayPal’s success on its iOS mobile operating system as an option for users as well as competition from Danish rival MobilePay, Sweden’s Swish and Belgium’s Payconiq.
Norwegian mobile payment app and complainant Vipps said, however, that alternatives to NFC are cumbersome and not competitive.
The commission’s request for information to rivals and retailers is unusual as it comes three months after Apple defended itself at a February 14 hearing.
The regulator, which can fine Apple up to 10 percent of its global turnover if found guilty of breaching antitrust rules, typically issues decisions after such hearings.
Last month, Apple announced a new high-yield deposit account with partner Goldman Sachs Group amid increased competition among financial institutions for consumer dollars.
Apple said users of its Apple Card could earn 4.15 percent on savings accounts, or 10 times higher than the national average, citing March data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that showed consumers earned an average of 0.37 percent on savings in bank accounts.
In March, Apple also launched its “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) service in the US, a move that threatens to disrupt the fintech sector dominated by firms like Affirm Holdings and Swedish payments company Klarna.
The service, Apple Pay Later, will allow users to split purchases into four payments spread over six weeks with no interest or fees, the company said. It will initially be offered to select users, with plans of a full roll-out in the coming months.
© Thomson Reuters 2023