Dutch regulators investigating Apple Pay over antitrust concerns

Apple’s mobile payment option, Apple Pay, is one of the company’s most popular services. But Dutch regulators are investigating Apple over antitrust concerns.

As first reported today by Bloomberg, Apple is facing some heavy scrutiny from Dutch regulators over Apple Pay and Apple’s rule set for accessing the iPhone’s built-in NFC support. The report indicates that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers has officially opened an investigation to determine “whether users get a free choice of financial apps with contactless payments”.

It’s worth noting here that the investigation isn’t name-dropping Apple, but rather keeping things a bit vague. However, the target is not a secret by any means. The regulators’ wording describes “the software on some smartphones” only allows for the “software developer’s own payment app to connect to NFC communication”. That definitely describes Apple and its methodology for Apple Pay.

It’s not a secret that Apple doesn’t allow for third-party companies to access the NFC hardware for mobile payments. So, for instance, Google Pay can’t be used for mobile payments for tap-and-go purchases. That’s reserved for Apple Pay.

The investigators will determine if Apple’s actions here are limiting customers’ freedom of choice. If it does determine there is a violation, Apple could be hit with a penalty of some kind, which could include a fine of some dollar amount.

Technically, Apple commented on the story:

While Apple declined to comment directly on the investigation, it said it “designed Apple Pay as a simple and secure way for customers to use the payment card of their choice on their Apple devices.”

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

It will be interesting to see what happens here.

Do you think Apple should allow other companies the ability to use mobile payments on the iPhone?