Apple responds to Australian banks over Apple Pay

Apple has accused Australian banks of working to “delay or even block” Apple Pay to stifle competition from smaller companies and limit consumer options, Bloomberg reports. Apple is keeping the pressure on after winning a preliminary ruling against a group of Australian banks who wanted Apple to open up the iPhone’s NFC controller for use with their own mobile payment systems. The banks have been boycotting Apple Pay over the fees Apple charges and filed a motion last July requesting the ability to collectively bargain with the company, but Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said in December that, “While the ACCC accepts that the opportunity for the banks to collectively negotiate and boycott would place them in a better bargaining position with Apple, the benefits are currently uncertain and may be limited.”
In its latest filing, Apple claims the banks’ main motivation in opposing Apple Pay is avoiding fees and discouraging customers from using the mobile payment system by charging for their participation in the service. Apple argues that would be allowing the banks “to continue to free-ride on the significant investments” the company has made in its technology. The banks pushed back immediately with a statement, claiming again that their application “has never been about preventing Apple Pay from coming to Australia or reducing competition between wallets.” A final ruling won’t be issued until March, but in his draft ruling Sims said the banks have enough avenues for competition—including the ability to offer their digital wallets on Android phones—to justify letting Apple maintain its hold over access the iPhone’s hardware.

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