What you need to know
- Apple has defended its Apple Pay service and mobile transactions on iPhone in submissions made to an inquiry in Australia.
- A Joint Parliamentary Committee is investigating the world of mobile payments and digital wallet financial services.
- Apple was asked why it charged 30% commission for Apple Pay transactions, and when it would allow third-parties to use Bluetooth on the iPhone.
Earlier this week it was reported that Apple had begun defending Apple Pay and NFC on devices like the iPhone 12 as part of a Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiry into the world of mobile payments and digital wallet financial services in Australia. Yet some of the questions posed to Apple raise some doubt about what exactly the Commitee thinks it's looking into...
Responses reviewed by iMore from Apple that were filed as part of the inquiry reveal questions posed to Apple as part of the investigation. All of the questions come from the Committee's chair, Andrew Wallace MP of the Liberal National Party of Queensland.
One question posed to Apple states:
Does Apple consider Bluetooth LE a viable technology to underpin future POS mobile payments? If so, does Apple intend to provide direct or restricted access for third parties to BLE chips on its mobile devices?
Yes, Apple was asked if it plans to let third parties use Bluetooth on the iPhone, to which Apple responded "any developer can use Bluetooth technology on Apple devices", before explaining how permission prompts for Bluetooth functions except audio playback work.
Another question from the committee claims that Apple currently mandates the use of Apple Pay for in-app purchases, and states that Apple takes 30% commission on Apple Pay transactions:
Apple currently mandates the use of its own Apple Pay payments platform for most types of app-based transactions on its mobile devices. According to several submissions to this inquiry, Apple's share of the value of these transactions (which is understood to be considerable at up to 30 per cent of the transaction value) is not disclosed to consumers and limits competition from other payment platforms (see for example submissions 8 and 11).
Apple noted in its response that the Committee appeared to be "conflating Apple Pay and the App Store's in-app purchase system", which seems like a bit of an oversight.
Apple was also asked why it places restrictions on Apple Pay payments to stop merchants surcharging for transactions:
Unlike transactions made using a physical EFTPOS or scheme card, Apple's terms and conditions for accepting mobile payments via Apple Pay at a POS prohibit merchant surcharging. Would you assist the committee by providing further information on Apple's prohibition on merchant surcharging for transactions over the Apple Pay platform and why Apple has taken that approach?
Apple politely responded that it did not impose any such terms and did not have "any information on the merchant surcharging the Committee refers to."
Apple was required to answer some less wayward questions too, for example, it was asked what protections were put in place to avoid self-preferencing on its App Store whilst ensuring an even playing field for iOS developers.
In its overall submission to the Committee Apple said that it welcomed the opportunity to take part in the inquiry and that Apple Pay was "an example of the dynamic competition and innovation that characterizes the payments markets globally and in Australia."
Another familiar face in the inquiry was Epic Games, which gleefully took the opportunity to blast both Apple and Google regarding the App Store and Google Play. Epic stated restrictions imposed by the pair "have had a significant effect on competition in Australia for the provision of these services, which has manifested itself in the foreclosure of alternatives, higher prices being paid by Australian consumers and stifled innovation."
A similar probe into Apple Pay was also launched by the EU earlier this year.