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Apple makes NFC technology available to third-party apps in the EU

Months after Apple was forced to open up the App Store for iPhone to third parties due to the European Union Digital Market Act, the Cupertino company has committed to giving developers access to basic NFC features on its devices.

Users will be able to choose from a variety of wallets and payment methods in the region, such as Samsung Wallet, Google Wallet, or other apps. Apple will also offer easy-to-use features such as setting these apps as default instead of the company’s Wallet, double-clicking the side button for quick access, and Face ID authentication.

According to a letter from European Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager, Apple made a mistake by limiting NFC payments to a built-in option because “NFC technology was not developed by Apple. It is a standardized technology. It is provided free of charge.” That said, there were three reasons why Cupertino opened up the technology to third-party manufacturers:

  • Apple holds a significant position in the smart mobile device market;
  • Apple dominates the NFC and mobile wallet market for iPhones;
  • Apple has refused to give access to the NFC technology on the iPhone to competing wallet developers. Instead, Apple has reserved the use of the NFC technology on the iPhone for its own mobile wallet solution.

Here’s How Third-Party Manufacturers Will Use iPhone’s NFC Features

Samsung Pay could come to iPhone thanks to new EU rules. Photo source: José Adorno for BGR

After months of testing, Apple will now give third-party mobile wallets free access to the NFC feature. However, Apple will not open up its Secure Enclave because those wallets will use “Host Card Emulation Mode,” even though the European Commission says it “offers an equivalent solution in terms of security and user experience.”

In addition, double-click authentication and Face ID will also work with third-party wallets. Apple will also allow users to choose the default iPhone wallet. This will work for users registered in the European Economic Area and will work even when traveling abroad.

Developers can even top up their wallets with public transport cards, access controls, concert tickets, and digital credentials.

Photo credit: José Adorno for BGR

The letter ends with a warning: “Starting now, Apple can no longer use its control over the iPhone ecosystem to keep other mobile wallets out of the market. Competing wallet makers, as well as consumers, will benefit from these changes by opening up innovation and choice while ensuring payment security.”

These features will need to be available to iPhone users by July 25, so a software update is likely just around the corner. It could arrive with iOS 17.6.