EU to file antitrust charges against Apple over NFC chip access next week?

The European Commission is expected to file antitrust charges against Apple over the company’s limitation of access to its NFC chip technology and mobile payment system next week, “four people with direct knowledge of the matter” have told the Financial Times.

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Reports that the Commission is preparing a charge sheet known as a statement of objections relating to Apple’s practices in connection with Apple Pay and access to the NFC functionality on iPhones first emerged in October 2021, following its launch of a formal antitrust investigation into whether such practices contravene EU competition law in June 2020.

“Investigators, led by the bloc’s powerful competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, will accuse Apple of unfairly blocking groups such as PayPal and leading banks from accessing its mobile wallet system,” the Financial Times reports.

“The charges expected to be announced next week relate to the NFC — or ‘near field communication’ — technology that allows a user to pay by tapping their iPhone on a payments terminal. That personal device is linked to debit or credit cards through a mobile wallet.

“Under the current system, Apple must approve third parties to process payments through its mobile system, saying it would breach the security and privacy of its users.

“The timing of the EU’s announcement of charges could still slip, people close to the investigation warned, but added that the Commission was determined to act soon.”

Apple “would receive heavy fines worth up to 10 per cent of global turnover if the charges are upheld,” the FT adds.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the European Council provisionally agreed the text of a Digital Market Act that will require companies such as Apple and Google to allow developers fair access to “supplementary functionalities of smartphones (eg NFC chip)” in March.

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