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Apple Opens Payments Tech to Avoid EU Fine

EU, antitrust, anticompetitive, Apple, Apple Pay, NFC

Apple has agreed to open its mobile wallet tech to rivals, thus avoiding fines in Europe.

The agreement, announced by the European Union (EU) Thursday (July 11), is binding for a decade, letting other companies use the technology free of charge. In doing so, Apple ended an investigation by EU regulators, who said Apple was abusing its market dominance by cutting off access to the technology.

Now, consumers in Europe will be able to use alternative digital wallets to make payments, with the agreement in place for 10 years. Violating the agreement could lead the EU to fine Apple up to 10% of its yearly global revenue.

“From now on, competitors will be able to effectively compete with Apple Pay for mobile payments with the iPhone in shops,” said Margrethe Vestager, vice president in charge of competition policy for the EU. “So consumers will have a wider range of safe and innovative mobile wallets to choose from.”

Apple had issued a statement last month indicating that a settlement could be on its way.

“Through our ongoing discussions with the European Commission, we have offered commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS apps, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet,” the company told the Financial Times.

The European Commission (EC), which is the executive arm of the EU, had charged the iPhone maker with competition law violations in 2022, alleging that Apple prevented competitors from accessing the technology that enables “tap-and-go” payments.

Apple continues to face other regulatory hurdles in Europe. Last month brought reports that the EC was going to charge Apple after concluding the company wasn’t complying with a requirement that it allow app developers to steer users to offers available outside Apple’s App Store without charging them fees.

The company is also appealing a landmark antitrust fine of almost $2 billion handed down by European regulators after the EC found that Apple was abusing its power in the streaming music market. The commission determined that the company had blocked app developers from telling iOS users about alternative and lower-cost music subscription services.

Apple had responded by criticizing what it said was the EC’s “failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm.”