Apple settles ‘tap and go’ payments investigation with EU

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Apple is nearing the end of a long-running EU antitrust investigation into its mobile payments system and avoided a huge fine by offering a series of concessions to give rivals greater access to their contactless technology system.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, charged the iPhone maker in 2022 with violations of competition law. Brussels regulators have argued that the tech company is blocking competitors from accessing the “touch and go” or near-field communication (NFC) chips that benefit the Apple Pay system their own.

But three people familiar with the matter said regulators had accepted some of the measures Apple committed in January this year.

These include giving developers free access to NFC technology on iOS devices and without the need to use Apple Pay or Apple Wallet. Brussels officials have been testing these measures, and Apple has offered to keep them in place for a decade.

Three people familiar with the matter said Apple is still finalizing the final technical details but may have a solution in the coming weeks. The committee could still have problems with Apple’s commitments and the timeline for resolution could change, the people said. The European Commission declined to comment.

A settlement would help ensure Apple avoids sanctions such as fines of up to 10% of the company’s total annual revenue worldwide. Under those conditions, Apple’s revenue of $383 billion in 2023 would mean a fine of about $40 billion.

Apple declined to comment but pointed to a previous statement. “Through ongoing discussions with the European Commission, we have made commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area an option to enable their users make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS app, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet,” that statement said.

“Apple Pay will continue to be a widely available option, and more than 3,000 issuing banks across all EEA countries can still provide Apple Pay’s great privacy and security and user experience. Its great use.”

Apple Pay is used by hundreds of millions of iPhones, and the conclusions of the long-running Brussels investigation come at a time of particularly tense relations between Apple and regulators.

Brussels recently fined the company a record 1.8 billion euros for anti-competitive practices related to its music streaming service. Apple has appealed the fine. The company is also identified as The first technology company subject to new charges under the bloc’s tough Digital Markets Act, designed to facilitate competition in digital markets on the continent.


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