Germany To Force Mobile Payment Providers To Share Systems With Rivals

Apple Pay

Apple criticized German lawmakers’ vote to pass new legislation that would force it to open up its mobile payment system to rival providers, Reuters reported on Friday (Nov. 15).

The German Parliament passed new measures on Wednesday night (Nov. 13) to bring the country in line with European Union directives on money laundering. The law was added as an amendment to a bill regarding anti-money laundering (AML) measures. The legislation didn’t specifically name Apple or Apple Pay, but it affects all operators of digital payments.

The new law may encourage other EU countries to follow suit. The change means Apple will have to offer German iPhone users mobile payment service options.

“We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced,” Apple told the news outlet. “We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user-friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information.”

Traditional bank payment apps currently can’t access the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in the iPhone or Apple Watch. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office asked the committee to withdraw the amendment, a source told Reuters. The request was denied by a senior official because there was “complete consensus” in the government. 

After the Finance Ministry ensured the legislation was “legally watertight” there were no further reservations.

Jens Zimmermann, a senior lawmaker from Germany’s Social Democrats, told the news outlet, “It would be astonishing if they [the Chancellor’s office] let themselves be reined back by an American company.” 

Apple is already under scrutiny from an EU antitrust regulator over concerns about anticompetitive practices relating to Apple Pay. 

There seems to be an increasing interest in Apple’s digital wallet, and how the firm is competing in the payments realm. Scrutiny of the Apple payment offering comes alongside other anticompetitive investigations, with the European Commission looking into antitrust complaints by Spotify against Apple over music streaming services.

The EU’s Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said at a press conference in Lisbon, Portugal that “we get many, many concerns when it comes to Apple Pay, for pure competition reasons.”


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