Apple says Australian banks are ‘not interested’ in promoting mobile payments competition

Apple Pay
EYE TO EYE: Apple has hit back at motives of Australian banks’ claims over Apple Pay

Apple is claiming the group of Australian banks pushing for the company to open up access to the NFC technology within its handsets is “not interested in promoting competition in mobile payments” within the country.

In a 10-page letter to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Apple states the banks’ request to “collectively negotiate” with third-party mobile wallet providers does not provided any “cogent, persuasive evidence to substantiate the public benefits they propose will arise from the authorised conduct” and allowing the banks to “form a cartel” will “not result in the outcomes sought”.

Undermining Apple Pay

“Apple has never negotiated with any banks in the world to provide any modification to Apple Pay to provide direct third-party access to the NFC radio to make payments, because doing so would undermine the security and simplicity of the Apple Pay platform,” Apple writes.

“Allowing the applicant banks to form a cartel to jointly negotiate against Apple in these circumstances would not result in the outcomes sought by the banks and could therefore not lead to any of the claimed public benefits identified by the application and subsequent materials provided by the applicant banks.”

“The only plausible explanation for the applicant banks’ behaviour is that they are not interested in promoting competition in mobile payments, but instead would prefer a situation where the only payment apps available to consumers in Australia are the banks’ own proprietary apps that only provide access to their own respective credit and debit card,” the company adds.

‘Troubling precedent’

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Bank submitted their request for negotiation to the ACCC in July 2016.

Apple spoke out for the first time about the banks’ submission in August, saying it was made up of “factual and legal misstatements” and would “harm consumers, lead to less competition and less innovation, and create a troubling precedent” if granted. It insisted that opening up access to the NFC technology within its handsets is “not open to negotiation with any bank”.

In an extensive response to the ACCC published last month, the banks criticised Apple’s decision to restrict access to the NFC within its handsets, calling it “completely baseless.”

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