Four Australian Banks Want Permission To Launch Apple Boycott

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are reportedly looking for permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to launch boycott activities with Apple in relation to the rollout of Apple Pay in Australia.

According to a report that cited a 137-page submission to the ACCC, the banks contend Apple is trying to ride the coattails of their investment in the country’s national contactless infrastructure, while remaining “intransigent, closed and controlling” in laying out the terms for support of Apple Pay.

“By locking out any independent access to the NFC function on iOS devices, Apple is seeking for itself the exclusive use of Australia’s existing NFC terminal infrastructure for the making of integrated mobile payments using iOS devices,” the banks stated, according to the report. “Yet, this infrastructure was built and paid for by Australian banks and merchants for the benefit of all Australians.”

Apple, for its part, contends the banks are acting like a cartel by stifling competition and creating an environment where there are unnecessary security risks, something the banks dismiss. The banks say it’s baseless that opening up access to the NFC function would jeopardize security and the customer experience. “This is about the future of mobile payments in Australia. Will it be ‘Apple’s way or no way’ or a genuine level playing field so all consumers can have the best digital services, no matter what device they own?” said Lance Blockley, a payments specialist speaking on behalf of the banks. The ACCC will make a final ruling on the dispute sometime in October.

Late in the summer, a number of major Australian retailers and payments associations 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 a report, those filing letters with the ACCC included Coles Supermarkets, the Australian Retailers Association, Bluechain, the Australian Payments Clearing Association and Australian Settlements Limited.