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EU Apple Pay antitrust action is complete, after NFC opened to competitors

Apple is opening up its NFC APIs to rivals in the EU

Last updated

The European Union has formally accepted Apple's response to its antitrust concerns over Apple Pay, and iPhones will now allow rival firms to use the technology.

The EU had threatened Apple with fines of up to $40 billion for how it reserved iPhone NFC technology solely for its own Apple Pay. Apple agreed to open it up to rivals within the EU, but it has taken some months for the regulators to accept the details.

The EU says that the time was spent testing Apple's commitments, and consulting with rivals over them. After some adjustments, the EU has now accepted Apple's commitments, and is making them legally binding for the next ten years.

"Apple has committed to allow rivals to access the 'tap and go' technology of iPhones," said antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, in a statement. "Today's decision makes Apple' commitments binding. It opens up competition in this crucial sector, by preventing Apple from excluding other mobile wallets from the iPhone's ecosystem."

Apple's commitments allow competition in iPhone payments; 'tap and go' now available for other apps, offering secure options and innovative features.
The EU's visual description of what its changes mean to customers

"From now on, competitors will be able to effectively compete with Apple Pay for mobile payments with the iPhone in shops," she considered. "So consumers will have a wider range of safe and innovative mobile wallets to choose from."

Broadly, Apple's revised commitments to the EU include:

  • Supporting Host Card Emulation (HCE) payment credentials stored online instead of on the phone
  • Removing a requirement for developers to be licensed Payment Service Providers
  • Allowing developers to prompt users to change their default payment app
  • Shorten deadlines for resolving disputes

In short, iPhone users in the EU will be able to replace Apple Pay and Apple's Wallet with offerings from other firms. In May 2024, the London-based digital wallet firm Curve said that it was only waiting for the EU to resolve final technical details before launching its alternative payment system on iPhones Europe-wide.