Australian banks accuse Apple of anti-competitive behavior, want access to iPhone’s NFC chip to take on Apple Pay

“Australia’s three biggest banks, including no. 1 lender National Australia Bank, on Wednesday said they had lodged a joint application with anti-trust regulators seeking approval to collectively negotiate with Apple Inc. to install their own electronic payments applications on iPhones,” Matt Siegel reports for Reuters. “Apple, which operates its own Apple Pay mobile wallet, does not allow third-party electronic payment apps to be loaded onto to the hugely popular smartphones. The banks are seeking to be able to negotiate jointly for access to Apple’s phones without themselves being accused of violating anti-competition law.”

“The three banks have resisted signing deals to use Apple Pay and want iPhone users to be able to install the electronic wallet systems they have already developed and financed themselves,” Siegel reports. “The country’s second-biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and number three, Westpac Banking Corp, teamed up with NAB to file the application with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The big three have been joined in the move by smaller lender Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.”

Siegel reports that the banks “contend that while Apple allows apps on iPhones using other commonplace technology, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, restricting the technology through which mobile wallets function – known as Near Field Technology – constitutes anti-competitive behavior.”

Read more in the full article here.

Brad Jones reports for Yahoo Tech that the banks’ “argument is that third-party apps are allowed to make use of features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the NFC chip should fall under the same category.”

“For the time being, the three banks are simply looking for permission to negotiate with Apple as a group in an attempt to gain access to the chip,” Jones reports. “However, if this attempt fails, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see them level legal action against the company in relation to the purported breach of antitrust law.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A move by the banks to up their bargaining power, but Apple could simply argue “No” on the simple and obvious ground of protecting iOS user’s security.

ANZ welcomes Apple Pay in Australia with a funny new TV ad – May 5, 2016
Apple expands Apple Pay in Australia with ANZ bank deal – April 28, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Dan K.,” and “Brawndo Drinker” for the heads up.]


  1. I can’t see any reason why third parties should be allowed access to such sensitive aspects of iPhones, especially when there is already an elegant and proven system for handling payments.

    This is all about Australian banks wanting to find a way to avoid paying transaction fees to Apple.

    If third parties were to create a solution and it proved to be insecure, the headlines wouldn’t be saying that the banks have screwed up their flawed system, the headlines would be that payments on iPhones were insecure.

    There is nothing but downsides for Apple with this demand.

    1. Yea, hey banks lets give other private companies a turn to print money and control the interest rates?
      Not. Gonna. Happen.
      World Banks: The most vile, corrupt, evil, closed club on the planet.
      The Federal Reserve, there is nothing federal about it. Just private companies printing money and then charging interest to loan the newly printed money to our stupid government.
      Sorry, rant over.

  2. Today some apps have access to FingerPrint authentication, i a secure manner.
    I actually believe that competing wallets should be able to access this NFC radio and implement their too.
    And regular Apps can implement the radio also, like configuring an access point, or a printer.

    The issue at hand is do I trust an app from just about any vendor with my credit card or bank info,
    -Is the on boarding of the bank to the wallet secure?
    -Is the storage of this data secure?,
    -are transactions secure?
    -does it use tokens?
    -When I pay, is my operation anonymous?
    -If a void my plastic, does the wallet need updating
    **Apple pay can continue to use you card account to pay even if the plastic is reported stolen, it has an independent token
    this are the real questions, and can apple open NFC but certify security & Privacy , this is the HARD QUESTION

    1. “I actually believe that competing wallets should be able to access this NFC radio and implement their too.”

      I totally disagree. Do you really want to be forced to choose from a dozen different wallet apps on your phone? Apple has the right idea: One Wallet with one security path, and one method for use — a master repository for security-critical items such as credit cards, driver license, passport, etc. It’s a beautiful picture and if Apple’s stand on this is negated everyone with an iPhone will lose a level of security and convenience we now enjoy.

      Fragmentation benefits no one except the banks.

      1. they could all be hosted as extension, like homeKIT, or healthKIT, or the passport we started to have, so the APP from my bank can provide addition services apple is not interested, they would work together as a single UI, I love constancy and the walled garden, and hate real fragmentations, but there could be middle of the problem solutions, Apple sometimes is to slow or stubborn to provide enhancements.

      2. Yes I want to choose my wallet, just like I want to choose what credit card to use on any particular purchase. Why should I carry 2 phones to have this privilege?

  3. So weird. This is like straight out of Atlas Shrugged. Only it was a particular metal developed by a company that everyone wanted. But the creator owned it. So the government stepped in and created the equal access law that demanded the metal owner provide equal shares of his metal to competitors.

    Then there’s the government installing agents inside Apple to “monitor their anti-competitive behavior.”

  4. I wonder what would happen if Apple said to these banks, sure, you can put your app on our phone but you have to allow Apple Pay to work with your customers as well. We’ll then let the consumer decide which system they prefer.

    1. It would be much simpler for Apple to say no. If they said “yes … but” you could be quite sure that others would hear the yes, but not pay any attention to the conditional aspect. There would then be continual pressure to push the limits of what Apple might allow.

  5. Hardly an antitrust matter with plenty of other methods of payment available. Apple’s is Apple’s own and they reserve the right to securely control that gateway. Let the banks create their own clunky payment security faulty systems consumers will inevitably loathe compared to Apple Pay.

    They will capitulate if they know what’s good for them. Or consumers might move to a bank who does.

  6. Yes, let’s open up the secure enclave to anyone in the interests of “fair competition”

    As an engineer who has worked in the banking industry all I’ll say is they need to INVEST in their own infrastructure before trying anything like this. I’ve seen so many end of life devices in banking networks it is truly amazing they aren’t hacked more than they are now.

  7. Abuse of their NFC technology is inevitable if Apple allows in other software access. Apple would end up having to take responsibility for the security of OTHER company’s NFC related software. Apple would also lose out on payments into their own Apple Pay system. I can at least understand Apple’s reluctance to get involved in that hot mess.

    1. Nonsense. The NFC would do nothing unless the app was opened, and if you don’t trust your bank and its app, you’ve got bigger problems. Other apps would have to be granted explicit permission, just like with location info or contacts info. And Apple wouldn’t be approving apps without a legit reason, like banking apps. There is absolutely zero reason for not allowing this other than to protect an Apple monopoly.

      1. Correct, NFC would do nothing unless the app was opened. That has nothing to do with my point.

        Yes, Apple wouldn’t be approving the apps without a legit reason. And again that has nothing to do with my point.

        I continue to stand on my exact points, which you apparently didn’t bother to read or understand.

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