Apple has agreed to open up access to its payments technology to third-party companies to end an antitrust dispute with the EU, the political bloc stated.
Making the announcement this Friday, Brussels said that the US-based multinational tech giant has agreed to open up its contactless tap-to-pay payment function on its iOS operating platform, enabled via its NFC chip technology.
Mobile wallet and payment services providers will now be able to leverage Apple’s contactless offering. The European Commission (EC), the EU’s governing body, is now inviting any interested company to enter a consultation on the matter.
Although sharing its technology with possible competitors may not be a move entirely in Apple’s favour, the decision will help the firm avoid a potentially huge fine issued by the EC.
This is due to the EC investigating whether or not Apple’s restriction of its NFC-based contactless technology was hindering competition in violation of antitrust rules.
Commenting back in 2022, EC EVP Margrethe Vestager remarked: “We preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.”
Apple confirmed at the time that it would continue engaging and working with the EC to ensure the matter was resolved – this has culminated in today’s decision.
Should the company have continued refusing to open up access to its contactless tech, it could have found itself subject to a fine amounting to 10% of its operating income.
Given that Apple is a multibillion dollar company – the firm’s Q4 2023 revenue alone stood at $89.5bn, and it is the first publicly listed firm to be valued in the trillions – this fine would have amounted to a significant sum of money.
Concerns over the potential competitive advantages big tech firms such as Apple, as well as Google and others, have over smaller firms have been increasing in some regulatory circles of late.
In the UK, for example, the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched a consultation to assess whether a state of ‘data asymmetry’ has benefited Big Tech companies.
Draft legislation was also introduced to parliament in April last year which, if adopted, would introduce a fine of 10% of company revenue – the same as the EU standard – if Big Tech firms were to violate the new regulations.