iPhones in the EU could get a major Apple Pay upgrade as soon as next month — Apple to offer rival wallets NFC access to dodge massive fine

Apple Pay paying for coffee
(Image credit: Pexels)

A new report says that Apple has offered to open up Apple Pay to its rivals in the EU as part of revised terms devised to appease the oncoming tide of Brussels legislation. 

According to Reuters, Apple’s proposal “to open its tap-and-go mobile payments system to rivals is set to be approved by EU antitrust regulators as soon as next month.” It follows a four-year EU investigation into Apple’s tap-to-pay technology on iPhone, powered by NFC. As it stands, iPhone users can currently only use the feature through Apple Pay, which is exclusive to all of Apple’s best iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watch. 

According to the European Commission (EC), Apple Pay’s exclusivity constitutes an abuse of a dominant position “in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices.” In a Statement of Objections leveled at the company in 2022, the EC claimed that Apple “restricts competition in the mobile wallets market on iOS” by limiting the use of its NFC tech on iPhone. 

Rival payments on iPhone 

The news indicates that as early as May, Apple will make significant changes to tap-to-pay tech on iPhone which could allow users to access rival services such as Google Wallet and Samsung Wallet. Whether or not any rival services choose to take advantage of the expected rule change, or whether or not it's of any interest to users already invested in the iPhone ecosystem is another matter. 

Tap-to-pay on iPhone tweaks would mark just one of a number of sweeping changes Apple is making to the iPhone in the face of staunch antitrust legislation in the EU. Most notably, Apple has opened up iOS 17 to alternative app marketplaces and web distribution of apps, so that developers can offer apps freely to users beyond the iPhone’s App Store. More broadly, Apple has opened up iOS to game streaming worldwide, along with game emulators on iPhone, which brought with it the popular launch of Delta, an app that enables Nintendo emulation for a range of consoles including Game Boy and SNES.

According to Reuters, the EC is hoping to access Apple’s offer of tap-to-pay changes “by the summer,” but May is the “likeliest month.” If Apple doesn’t get itself on the EC’s good side when it comes to NFC payments on iPhone, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its global annual turnover, which is nearly $400 billion. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9