The requests by the antitrust regulators of the EU were sent out three months after Apple testified at a hearing on Feb. 14, Reuters reported Wednesday (May 10).
Because the EC usually issues decisions after these sorts of hearings, the sending of the requests suggests that the regulator is looking to strengthen its case, according to the report.
Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.
The investigation is centered on the EC’s allegation that Apple makes it difficult for rivals to develop mobile payment systems on its devices by restricting their access to near-field communication (NFC), which is the tap-to-pay technology used for mobile wallets, according to the report.
As PYMNTS reported in November 2022, the EC opened its ongoing antitrust probe into Apple Pay in 2020.
In comments on the investigation’s progress in May 2022, the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager made it clear that Apple’s stranglehold on iPhone NFC usage doesn’t live up to the EC’s standards of fair play.
Vestager said that “by excluding others from the game, Apple has unfairly shielded its Apple Pay wallet from competition. If proven, this behavior would amount to abuse of dominant position, which is illegal under our rules.”
Norwegian FinTech Vipps argued in February that the issue is crucial because of Apple’s popularity among Scandinavian consumers and because of the growing use of mobile payments powered by NFC technology.
Speaking with Reuters after the February hearing, Vipps CEO Rune Garborg said that his company wants regulators to force Apple to allow unrestricted access to its tap-and-go technology so other firms can be more competitive.
Garborg said that Apple was “only sharing NFC with banks, which have to pay for installing their cards in Apple Pay. But for us as a wallet, we don’t have open access to NFC.”
Apple Pay captures 2.4% of in-store transactions, according to the PYMNTS report, “Apple Pay @ 8: Connected-Tech Consumers Lead the Way.”