A number of major Australian retailers and payments associations have filed letters supporting a regulatory request from three Australian banks that would make Apple collectively negotiate third-party access to its iPhone secure near-field communication (NFC) module for Apple Pay, according to AppleInsider.
According to the report, those filing letters with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) include Coles Supermarkets, the Australian Retailers Association, Bluechain, the Australian Payments Clearing Association and Australian Settlements Limited.
The three banks — Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp. — are seeking access to Apple’s NFC technology, which Apple currently restricts on iPhones and Apple Watch devices exclusively to Apple Pay. The banks argue that Apple’s stance is anticompetitive.
Last month, the banks filed a request with the ACCC to collectively negotiate terms for Apple to allow the installation of third-party digital wallet apps onto the iPhone’s hardware.
In its letter, Coles noted that NFC is a crucial technology in mobile wallet solutions, which the company has been using in NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminals since 2012. Coles is also a credit card issuer and says that a collective negotiation to allow third-party digital wallet apps on Apple hardware would provide more choices to the consumer and be in their best interest.
“We note there has been an ongoing movement in Australia to improve the transparency of costs to consumers related to their banking products,” said Nikala Busse, head of payments at Coles. “We would envisage that activity that supports cost transparency or creates incentives to lower costs for the benefit of consumers would be in the public interest.”
Apple has said that opening up the iPhone’s NFC would “fundamentally diminish” its security.