What you need to know
- EU antitrust regulators are deepening their probe in Apple Pay antitrust claims.
- The EU Commission has asked companies if they were put under contractual obligation to enable a certain payment method.
- They are also being asked if contracts included conditions to integrate Apple Pay in their apps and websites.
A report via Reuters claims that EU antitrust regulators have asked online sales companies whether they have been told to favour Apple Pay over rival services.
According to the report:
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) faces more regulatory woes in Europe as EU antitrust regulators ask online sales companies whether they have been told to use its mobile payment service instead of rival services, an EU document seen by Reuters showed.... In a questionnaire sent in August, the European Commission said it had information Apple may have restricted online payments for the purchase of goods and services made via merchant apps or websites, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
The questionnaire also reportedly asks whether companies were asked to enable a certain type of payment method, and whether they may have been under contractual obligation to integrate Apple Pay in their services, including apps and websites. There is also a suggestion that regulators wish to know if Apple has rejected merchant apps on the grounds that Apple Pay had been integrated within the apps, in breach of its Terms and Conditions.
An EU source stated:
"The Commission is actively monitoring the development of mobile payment solutions, the behaviour by operators active in the payments sector, including mobile payments."
Previous reports had suggested that the EU had been looking into possible anticompetitive practices involving Apple Pay. That report suggested that behaviour under scrutiny included the restriction of the iPhone's NFC chip to cards in Apple's Wallet app, and encouraging users to use Apple Pay ahead of other payment methods.
This latest report from Reuters seems to suggest a slightly different tack from the EU commission, which seems to be focused less on Apple's own hardware/software. Rather, it calls into question Apple's dealings with certain online companies and the creators of merchant apps. This could suggest that the EU's antitrust probe may be wider than initially thought.