Dutch regulators open Apple Pay antitrust investigation

Apple is facing scrutiny from Dutch antitrust regulators over Apple Pay and access to the iPhone’s NFC hardware. As reported by Bloomberg, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers has opened an investigation into “whether users get a free choice of financial apps with contactless payments.”

The investigation doesn’t mention Apple or the iPhone by name, but the target is clear. The regulator instead simply writes that it is concerned that “the software on some smartphones only allows the software developer’s own payment app to connect to NFC communication.”

This is a clear reference to the iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay. Apple does not allow third-party companies to tap into the iPhone or Apple Watch NFC hardware, which means that iPhone users only have access to Apple Pay as a mobile payments solution.

The report explains:

The Dutch authority ‘will investigate whether limiting the payment apps’ access to NFC communication reduces the users’ freedom of choice,’ it said. If it ‘does establish a violation, it may result in a penalty, such as a fine.’

In a statement, Apple did not comment directly on the Netherlands investigation. Instead, it touted that it “designed Apple Pay as a simple and secure way for customers to use the payment card of their choice on their Apple devices.”

Apple said it competes every day, ‘working with banks, fintechs and merchants to be the best payment option for business and consumers across the Netherlands.’

This isn’t the only scrutiny Apple is under in regards to Apple Pay. The European Union may force Apple to let other payment apps access the iPhone and Apple Watch NFC chips. An EU antitrust probe is also investigating the terms and conditions for merchant apps and websites with Apple Pay.

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