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Apple Accused of Limiting Russian Users’ Banking Options


Russia says the country’s Apple users don’t have full access to payments and banking services.

As Reuters reported Thursday (April 4), Russia’s antitrust regulator, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), has written to Apple about the issue. The report notes that the FAS has fined Apple $26 million in the last two years, alleging the company abuses its dominant position in the mobile apps and in-app payment spaces.

According to the report, the FAS says most of Russia’s banks had been removed from the App Store, and that Apple was forbidding users from installing apps from any place except the App Store, thus making it impossible for Russian banks and contactless services to do business.

“The company’s actions contain signs of violation of antimonopoly legislation,” the FAS said in a statement. “The service sent a letter to the company about the need to submit a detailed, motivated position on this issue to the agency.”

PYMNTS has contacted Apple for comment but has not yet received a reply. The FAS request is the latest in a series of regulatory actions involving Apple and its App Store.

For example, an antitrust suit filed last month by the U.S. Department of Justice and 16 other state and district attorneys general accuses the company of monopolistic behavior, and alleges that Apple’s actions hinder the development of super apps that would make it easier for consumers to switch between smartphone platforms.

In addition, the lawsuit says that “digital wallets are an increasingly important way that smartphones are used and are a product in which users develop a great deal of comfort and trust as they typically contain users’ most sensitive information.”

Apple said in a statement provided to PYMNTS that the suit is a threat to the principles that help its products stand out, and if successful, “would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple — where hardware, software, and services intersect.”

The iPhone maker was also fined a record 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) last month by the European Commission (EC), which accused the company of abusing its position in the music streaming market.

The EC says it determined that Apple had restricted app developers from telling iOS users about alternative and less expensive music subscription services — such as rival Spotify — which is prohibited under Europe’s antitrust regulations.

Apple has said it was appealing the decision, and took aim at what it said was the EC’s “failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm.”