What you need to know

  • A report suggests that the European Commission is looking into anticompetitive practices involving Apple Pay
  • A representative says it is investigating "possible anti-competitive market practices and abusive conduct."
  • The investigation is preliminary and may not proceed without sufficient evidence.

A report from Mlex via 9to5Mac suggests that the European Commission is looking into possible anticompetitive behaviour involving Apple Pay.

According to the report:

Apple Pay, the iPhone maker's mobile wallet, has caught the eye of EU antitrust investigators, who have asked payment companies for feedback on the service, MLex has learned.

Now, the EU's antitrust agency is understood to have sought input from companies using Apple Pay, including online-payment providers, banks and app businesses.

One set of questions sent to companies in September focused on how Apple directs users entering an in-app purchase on their iPhone toward Apple Pay, over other payment methods, MLex has learned.

A commission spokesperson said the regulator was monitoring "possible anti-competitive market practices and abusive conduct."

Criticism has been levelled at Apple for restricting the use of the NFC chip to cards in the Wallet app for iPhone, with some banks and rivals arguing this decreases the incentive to use alternative payment services on iPhone:

Rivals are understood to have flagged concerns to the commission about the way iPhone users are prompted to use Apple Pay ahead of other payment methods.

Other objections raised to investigators in Brussels relate to Apple's alleged refusal to carry competing payment methods in its wallet.

Apple has in the past defended restricting access to the NFC chip as a way of ensuring maximum confidentiality for sensitive banking data. The increased security of Apple's payment system is said to be one of its attractions for consumers.

According to 9to5Mac, the investigation has not been officially announced/renewed, and no particular complaints have been put forward. The investigation is only at the preliminary stage and could fall away without sufficient evidence.

This isn't the first time Apple has drawn the ire of antitrust regulators. Earlier today it emerged that Apple had begun to submit documents to a US antitrust probe looking into Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.