EU Reg Could Probe Apple Pay For Market Dominance

EU Regulators Could Investigate Apple Again

Regulators in the European Union looked at Apple Pay, the company’s mobile payment system, and came to a conclusion about its market dominance, according to a report by Reuters.

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Monday (Dec. 10) that they found Apple was not market dominant, but that they could review the issue again if they received any formal complaints.

Apple launched its mobile pay service in October of 2014. It is available in 10 EU countries, including Italy, Denmark, France and Spain. Detractors of Apple in the EU say the contention comes from the fact that the iPhone uses an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip that selects Apple Pay automatically when someone uses an iPhone to buy something, excluding other companies’ payment services.

The EU isn’t the only one investigating the issue. The Danish Consumer Council raised the Apple issue, which is being investigated by the Danish Competition Authority.

Vestager has a reputation in the EU as a hard-liner, and she has the power to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

“When we were looking at it … (at) first glance, we couldn’t see Apple being dominant. That doesn’t exclude in the future that we will have a second look. But when we looked some time ago, we didn’t find … the necessary (evidence) to start a case,” she said. “Obviously, if we had official complaints, we would take that seriously, because the entire payment market is a very important payment market.”

Other tech giants have also found themselves in the EU’s crosshairs, and will remain so for the duration of her tenure, Vestager said.

For example, Google has been fined $7.7 billion in the span of 18 months for breaking EU rules. Vestager is also reviewing data about Amazon, and whether it is making products too similar to its retailers’ products.

“Now we have received not piles, but mountains of data, and for us it is a priority to go through that, both from Amazon themselves but also coming in from some of the businesses that they actually host,” she said. “For us, of course it is important to get the starting point right, because if we open a case, in order to be able to proceed with some speed, well then of course we need to get some of the basics right, and we are in the process of doing that.”

She also recently asked Google’s competitors if the search engine drops local search competitors in favor of itself, which raises the specter of a fourth antitrust proceeding against it.