May 3, 2022
Good morning! Apple is once again facing an antitrust battle, this time over Apple Pay. I’m Ben Brody, and getting a slight head injury has made me cringe every time someone gets bashed on the noggin on TV.
Apple just can’t catch a break. But in Europe, no American tech company can. The European Commission is on a tear this year, introducing new rules that would force big tech companies to open up their platforms and police them aggressively for allowing illegal content. But this week, it’s Apple specifically that’s under the microscope.
Apple’s latest antitrust fight is over Apple Pay. The European Commission announced yesterday that it believes Apple is violating antitrust rules by refusing to allow rival mobile wallets to offer tap-to-pay functionality on the iPhone. Apple allows developers to access the iPhone’s NFC chip, but not to connect to payment systems in physical stores. That means Apple Pay is the only option on iPhones — and the EU is not happy about it.
Apple says consumers have other options. They can, for instance, buy another phone that leverages a different payment system. Apple also told The Wall Street Journal that it is "setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security” while providing would-be competitors access to the technology on the same terms as it operates.
Apple Pay is under scrutiny at an interesting time. Apple is getting ready to allow iPhone users to receive contactless payments through the built-in NFC technology without additional hardware.
That highlights the problems regulators have with keeping up with fast-moving technology. Instead of asking questions about NFC mobile wallets, the EU could be digging into how Apple settles on Stripe and Shopify for early access to its newest tap-to-pay service, or if there are issues discouraging the rollout of QR-code payments. In Washington and Brussels, there’s a tendency to fight the last fight, instead of the next one, and it’s not the big tech companies that pay.
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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.Correction: An earlier version of this story included information about Tim Cook joining a university board; it was removed as it is not timely information. This story was updated on May 3, 2022.