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Apple said to face EU antitrust charge on NFC chip, could lead to opening up payment system to rivals

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Apple will be hit with an EU antitrust charge over its NFC chip technology, people familiar with the matter said, a move that puts it at risk of potentially hefty fines and has forced it to open up its mobile payments system to rivals. can force.

The iPhone maker has been in the crosshairs of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager since June last year, when she launched an investigation into Apple Pay.

Initial concerns were Apple’s NFC chip that enables tap-and-go payments on iPhone handsets, its terms and conditions for how mobile payment service Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites, and the company’s rivals. Refusal to allow access to payment. System.

The European Commission has since narrowed its focus to only the NFC chip, which can only be accessed by Apple Pay, one of the sources said.

One of the sources said the EU competition promoter is now preparing a chargesheet known as the Statement of Objections, which could be sent to Apple next year. Such documents typically set out practices considered anti-competitive by the regulator.

The commission, which has three other cases against Apple, declined to comment. It could fine companies up to 10 percent of their global business for violating EU rules, which could come up to $27.4 billion (about Rs 2,05,050 crore) based on Apple’s 2020 revenue.

Apple, which has cited privacy and security issues for its policy on Apple Pay, was not immediately available for comment.

Apple’s shares closed down 1 percent at $ 139.6 (about Rs 10,450) in early trade.

NFC-enabled payments have grown in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to some analysts, Apple Pay’s wide reach and superior consumer experience on the mobile website or in-store give it a competitive edge over rivals.

Apple Pay is also on the radar of other regulators and authorities. South Korea last month approved a bill banning major App Store operators, including Apple, from forcing software developers to use their payment systems.

Germany passed a law in 2019 requiring Apple to open up its mobile payment system to rivals for a reasonable fee.

That same year Dutch competition watchdog launched an investigation into the App Store and required that app developers use their payment system for in-app purchases and pay a 30 percent fee in the first year.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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