EU Regulator Accuses Apple of Violating EU Antitrust Rules
The European Commission has issued A Statement of Objections to technology giant Apple outlining a list of suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. A statement from the Commission says it has informed Apple of its preliminary view that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices.
The Commission takes issue with the decision by Apple to prevent mobile wallet app developers, from accessing key technology on its devices, to the benefit of its own solution, Apple Pay.
A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressees can examine the documents in the Commission’s investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said, “Mobile payments play a rapidly growing role in our digital economy. It is important for the integration of European Payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape. We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices. In our Statement of Objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.”
Apple was previously accused of anti-competitive behaviour by the EU regulator last year following a complaint from music streaming service Spotify.
The Commission’s preliminary view is that Apple’s dominant position in the market for mobile wallets on its operating system iOS, restricts competition, by reserving access to NFC technology to Apple Pay. The Commission believes this has an exclusionary effect on competitors and leads to less innovation and less choice for consumers for mobile wallets on iPhones.
Today’s Statement of Objections takes issue only with the access to NFC input by third-party developers of mobile wallets for payments in stores. It does not take issue with the online restrictions nor the alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay for specific products of rivals that the Commission announced that it had concerns when it opened an in-depth investigation into Apple’s practices regarding Apple Pay on 16 June 2020.
There are no legal deadlines for bringing an antitrust investigation to an end.