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Apple Charged With Antitrust Violations By The EU Over Its Mobile Payment System

Apple Charged With Antitrust Violations By The EU Over Its Mobile Payment System
After EU antitrust officials charged Apple with preventing rivals' access to its mobile wallet technology, the iPhone maker might face a huge punishment and be forced to open its mobile payment system to competitors.
This is Apple's second EU allegation, following a complaint from Spotify last year, when EU regulators accused the corporation of impeding competition in the music streaming industry.
The European Commission announced on Monday that it had given Apple a charge sheet, also known as a statement of objections, explaining how the corporation had abused its dominant position in markets for iOS mobile wallets.
Apple's anti-competitive activities, according to the Commission, began in 2015, when Apple Pay was introduced.
"We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple's devices," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
"In our statement of objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay," she said.
Apple said it would continue to work with the Commission despite the possibility of a fine of up to ten per cent of its global turnover, or $36.6 billion, based on its revenue last year, though EU penalties seldom reach that level.
"Apple Pay is only one of many options available to European consumers for making payments, and has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security," the company said in a statement.
Apple's Frankfurt-listed shares declined 0.7 percent at 1216 GMT as a result of the announcement.
Apple Pay is accepted by approximately 2,500 European banks, as well as over 250 fintechs and challenger banks. On iPhones and iPads, the NFC chip enables tap-and-go payments.
Vestager dismissed the company's claim of security.
"Our investigation to date did not reveal any evidence that would point to such a higher security risk. On the contrary, evidence on our file indicates that Apple's conduct cannot be justified by security concerns," she told a news conference.
Before the Commission issues a ruling, Apple can request a closed-door hearing to defend its case and also submit a written rebuttal, which might take a year or more.
The Digital Markets Act, which would require Apple to open up its closed eco-system or face fines of up to 10 per cent of its global turnover, is due to be implemented by the EU next year.
The Commission's decision to give Apple its statement of concerns backed up a Reuters report from October of last year.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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