Apple agrees to EU antitrust commitments on mobile payments

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm and chief antitrust enforcer, announced that it accepts Apple’s proposed commitments, giving them legal force.

In 2022, the commission accused Apple of abusing its dominant position by restricting access to mobile payment technology. Apple responded in January by offering to allow third-party mobile wallet and payment service providers access to contactless payment features on its iOS operating system. After revisions based on testing and feedback, the commission believes the final commitments will address its competition concerns.

“Today’s commitments conclude our investigation into Apple Pay,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for competition policy at the commission. Vestager said the commitments would bring significant changes to the way Apple operates in Europe, benefiting competitors and customers. iPhone users will have more default wallet options, and mobile wallet makers will gain access to key iPhone verification features such as Face ID.

Mobile wallets rely on near-field communication (NFC) technology, which uses a chip to wirelessly communicate with a merchant’s payment terminal. The Commission accused Apple of denying access to Apple Pay, the market-leading NFC-based mobile wallet. The changes will apply for a decade in the 27 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, monitored by a trustee.

Apple has until July 25 to implement the changes. After that date, developers will offer a mobile wallet on the iPhone with the same tap-and-go experience that was previously exclusive to Apple Pay. Apple said it will provide developers in the European Economic Area with NFC contactless payment and transaction options for uses such as car keys, corporate IDs, hotel keys and concert tickets. Failure to comply with EU competition law could result in fines of up to 10 percent of Apple’s annual global revenue, potentially amounting to tens of billions of euros.

(Disclaimer: Based on information obtained from the agency.)