EU regulators still investigating Apple Pay antitrust concerns, now examining Bluetooth and QR code alternatives

Home » EU regulators still investigating Apple Pay antitrust concerns, now examining Bluetooth and QR code alternatives
Apple Pay likely launching in South Korea this week


Apple is facing increasing antitrust pushback in the European Union over its tap-to-pay Apple Pay platform. A new report from Bloomberg details that European Union antitrust investigators are ramping up their probe into Apple Pay after soliciting more information from retailers on the usage of and availability of mobile payment platforms.

Almost exactly a year ago, the European Union announced its preliminary view that Apple abused its dominant market position by restricting access to the iPhone’s NFC chip for mobile payment platforms. The EU said that this restricts the ability of other payment platforms to compete with Apple, giving consumers fewer choices.

Today’s report explains that the European Commission also sent a “series of questions” on Apple Pay and other mobile payment platforms to retailers. With that information, the European Commission confirmed that it is now “examining” other mobile payment technologies, including those based on QR codes and Bluetooth:

The EU is now examining the availability of other payments solutions across mobile devices, including the use of QR codes and bluetooth technologies, as alternatives to Apple’s near-field communications chip, according to two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Apple’s digital wallet solution allows consumers to store virtual debit and credit cards on iPhones, in addition to ticket bookings. Its tap-to-pay tech, the NFC chip, allows payments to be processed via a card reader at a cash register.  Apple maintains strong restrictions on access to the NFC antenna, setting high standards for rival payment providers, which those competitors claim violates the EU’s competition rules.

Consumers have routinely pushed back on mobile payment platforms based on QR code technology. Grocery chain Kroger, for example, recently adopted Apple Pay after its QR code-based “Kroger Pay” platform failed to gain momentum. Walmart continues to push its QR code payment platform instead of Apple Pay, despite complaints from customers who would rather use Apple Pay.

Apple has argued that opening the NFC chip to other companies for payment technology would present security and privacy concerns. This, of course, is just one of many antitrust investigations Apple is facing in the European Union, including a claim that it unfairly favored Apple Music over rivals and various claims about the App Store.

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