EU and Apple settle lengthy antitrust investigation into “Tap-and-Go” process

EU and Apple settle lengthy antitrust investigation into “Tap-and-Go” process
EU and Apple settle lengthy antitrust investigation into “Tap-and-Go” process

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Brussels has accepted measures from Apple that will give the iPhone maker’s competitors access to its contactless payment system and ensure that the company avoids a large fine at the end of a lengthy antitrust investigation.

As a concession to the EU’s demands, the US technology giant will allow developers to activate its “Tap-and-Go” technology or Near Field Communication (NFC) to use Apple Pay and Apple Wallet as a “simple, secure and confidential payment method and for presenting cards,” it said on Thursday.

Apple will be able to avoid a fine of up to $40 billion from Brussels and a formal charge of violating EU law. The move marks a brief truce between the two companies after European regulators made a series of antitrust allegations.

“Today’s decision makes Apple’s commitments binding,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU executive responsible for enforcing EU competition rules, said on Thursday. “It opens up competition in this crucial sector by preventing Apple from excluding other mobile wallets from the iPhone ecosystem.”

The technology giant’s competitors could “effectively compete with Apple Pay” when it comes to mobile payments using the iPhone in stores, she added. This would give consumers a “wider range of secure and innovative mobile wallets to choose from.”

Hundreds of millions of iPhones use Apple Pay, and the end of this lengthy investigation comes at a time when regulators in the EU and US are increasingly scrutinizing the company’s business practices.

In 2022, after a two-year investigation, Brussels accused Apple of violating competition law by denying competitors access to its technology in order to favor its own payment system.

Since January, authorities have been testing concessions from Apple, including giving developers free access to NFC technology on iOS devices without the need to use Apple Wallet or Apple Pay. The Financial Times reported last month that a settlement in the case was imminent.

The EU’s sanctions for anti-competitive practices would have included a fine of up to 10 percent of the group’s annual global turnover. In 2023, Apple’s $383 billion turnover would have meant a fine of around $40 billion, although regulators rarely impose the highest penalty and fines are usually reduced in court after an appeal.

Apple recently became the first company to be sued under the EU’s Digital Markets Act, a tough law designed to improve consumer choice and open up digital markets in Europe.

In addition, Apple was recently fined a record €1.8 billion for anti-competitive practices related to music streaming services. Apple has taken the EU to court and appealed against the fine.

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