Why Has European Union Sent ‘Statement of Objections’ To Apple in Antitrust Case?

On Monday, the European Union intensified its antitrust investigation into multinational technology giant Apple Inc., accusing the firm of abusing its dominant position by restricting access to contactless payment technologies. The EU said that Apple had barred competitors from using its famous “tap-as-you-go” iPhone payment system, igniting a new war between the US tech giant and Brussels.

The Commission said it submitted Apple a Statement of Objections on its practices, which is a formal step in its investigations into possible antitrust crimes in the EU.

Since 2020, the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation bloc, has been examining Apple. According to the commission’s early findings, the company is stifling competition by denying mobile wallet app developers access to critical hardware and software on Apple devices.

Near-field communication, or NFC, is a wireless communication technology that employs a chip in a mobile device to communicate with a merchant’s payment terminal. The technology allows devices to interact within a very short range, typically less than 10 centimeters.

Apple Pay, which was introduced in 2014, allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to make payments at merchants by touching their devices to the same terminals that accept credit and debit cards.

According to the commission, Apple Pay is by far the most popular NFC-based mobile wallet on the market, and the corporation has been accused of denying others access to the popular technology.

The commission did not specify how much the fines may be, in the event the charges against Apple are finally upheld. However, reports say that Apple would have to change its ways or face penalties of up to 10% of its annual sales.

Apple said that it would continue to engage with the Commission to confirm that European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in an environment that is safe and secure.

The probe is one of several launched by the EU against Apple. EU investigators are also investigating whether the business has been breaking EU antitrust laws by distorting music streaming competition in its App Store by imposing unreasonable rules for competitor providers.

Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet option that can access the essential NFC input on iOS, according to the commission, and Apple is at fault for not making it available to third-party app developers.

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