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Apple offers to open NFC on iPhone in EU, likely to stave off antitrust regulation

Apple Pay

A new report claims that Apple has offered to open up iPhone near-field communication central to Apple Pay to other payment services, to fight off antitrust claims in the EU.

The report on Tuesday, by Reuters is light on details. It cites "three people familiar with the matter," and doesn't discuss any context behind the alleged offer.

This entire saga began in 2019. Four years ago, EU investigators requested feedback from payment companies regarding Apple Pay. They were concerned that Apple's decision to restrict the iPhone's NFC chip to only work with Apple Pay would prevent other companies from entering the mobile payment market.

The European Commission, which oversees antitrust laws in the EU, has accused Apple of engaging in anticompetitive behavior since the launch of Apple Pay in 2015. Officials are convinced that Apple's limiting the iPhone's built-in NFC chip to Apple Pay is the crux of the matter.

Apple Pay is not the dominant mobile payment service in the EU, nor does Apple hold the majority of the smartphone sales.

The EU is not the first governmental agency to take issue with Apple's handling of the NFC on the device. Shortly after its launch, a group of prominent Australian banks attempted to boycott Apple Pay to negotiate access to the NFC hardware within Apple devices for third-party use.

However, the banks eventually backed down after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission denied their boycott request in 2017.

The EU is currently exploring other payment options for mobile devices, such as QR codes and Bluetooth technologies, as alternatives to Apple's NFC chip.