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Australia: Apple’s antitrust fight with banks rages on

 |  August 10, 2016

The battle between Apple and a consortium of Australian banks over Apple Pay is continuing to escalate.

Apple has now accused the banks down under of leveraging “innuendo and misstatements” in an attempt to force their way past restrictions Apple has placed in its payments platform.

Apple Pay has been available in Australia sine late 2015 – when it first launched in a limited fashion through a partnership between Apple and American Express. Since that launch Apple has been in something of a disagreement with Australia’s main banks – who object that their inability to access the NFC chips within iPhones that make mobile payments possible is essentially unfair to their products.

In response to that perceived unfairness – Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Bendingo have jointly applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The complaint seeks an ability to collectively negotiate with Apple over NFC access and to challenge what they see as anti-competitive behavior.

In Apple response to the ACCC – Apple accused the banks of acting like a “cartel” in the hopes of undermining competition in the market.

“The request by the applicant banks would slow innovation and reduce choice by protecting members of the cartel from competition with each other,” states the letter.

Apple also claims that the proprietary hardware and software within their devices would become a security liability if made open and accessible to banks.

“Providing simple access to the NFC antenna by banking applications would fundamentally diminish the high level of security Apple aims to have on our devices.”

Apple further noted that given that Australian banks control 66 percent of the market share in credit cards nationally – their collective refusal to work with Apple is what really constitutes the anti-competitive behavior.

Apple notes that the banks account for a 66% market share in credit cards, adding: “Given their scale and market share, the applicants are essential to Apple’s ability to offer Apple Pay on a meaningful basis within Australia.”

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