EU claims Apple Pay restrictions and closed iOS ecosystem harm competition

Apple is faced with the possibility of another fine after anti-trust regulators from the European Commission accused the company of excluding competitors from using its iOS mobile wallet technology.

The European Commission said on Monday that it has sent a statement of objections to Apple, detailing its preliminary view that the company abused its dominant position to benefit its own payment solution, Apple Pay, and as a result, distorted competition.

The statement of objections as sent to Apple does not, however, indicate the outcome of the investigation.

European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager claimed in a press conference that Apple’s anti-competitive practices date back to 2015, when Apple Pay was first launched.

“Apple has built a closed ecosystem around its devices and its operating system, iOS. And Apple controls the gates to this ecosystem, setting the rules of the game for anyone who wants to reach consumers using Apple devices,” said Vestager.

“Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European Payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape.”

Vestager went on to claim that the investigation into Apple will likely inform future applications of the Digital Markets Act.

“It will set a precedent with regard to the analysis of the security concerns, and a recipe for effective and proportionate access to NFC for mobile payments,” Vestager added.

The European Union agreed to the Digital Markets Act in March, with EU lawyers still in the process of finalizing how the laws will operate.

Once complete, the details of the Digital Markets Act will be made publicly available and sent through to the EU Parliament and Council for approval. Once approved, the Act will go into effect 20 days after its publication and its rules would apply six months after.

The EU investigation follows on from several recent controversies involving Apple. In February this year, Apple’s attempt to resolve its dating app dispute with the Netherlands’ consumer watchdog fell short, resulting in a fine of €20 million.

Whilst in March last year, the São Paulo state consumer rights foundation, Procon-SP, fined Apple 10.5 million reais ($1.9 million) for not selling power charger adapters with new smartphones.

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