German law set to force Apple to grant banks, payment rival access to iPhone’s secure NFC chip

Banks and payment service rivals complain that Apple restricts access to iPhone’s secure NFC chip. A new German law looks to force Apple to allow NFC access to thrid-parties.

Natalia Drozdiak and Aoife White for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc.’s digital wallet is expanding in Europe just as regulators crack down on the tech giant’s move into financial services… Banks and other payments providers say the company gives its Apple Pay service an unfair advantage by limiting access to a key component inside iPhones… In Germany, a law that kicks in Jan. 1 could force Apple to open up its payments technology more for competitors.

[Apple’s] digital wallet is linked with 900 banks in Europe already and the company plans to work with another 1,500. How well that goes will partly depend on the fight for access to Apple Pay tech.

Wireless payments are powered by so-called NFC chips… Banks want the same functionality for their own iPhone apps and complain that Apple won’t give them access to the chip.

Germany could force Apple’s hand. The new law requires “non-discriminatory access to the technical infrastructure” said Altendorf, the spokeswoman for the German bank association.

Apple says it restricts access to the iPhone’s NFC chip as part of a system that encrypts users’ card information. Allowing competing mobile payments apps to access the NFC chip decoupled from Apple’s added layer of security could increase the risk of fraud and other security breaches, it said.

MacDailyNews Take: As protecting iOS users’ security is of paramount importance, Apple should not allow third-parties, with their repeatedly proven abilities to leak the personal data of millions of users worldwide, to have access to iPhone’s NFC chip. If some random bank or payment service has a breach that leaks iPhone users’ data, Apple will be the company that’s blamed, not the third-party.

If Apple is forced to give access to the NFC chip, it should be with a strong disclaimer at the moment any third-party app attempts to access it saying, to the effect: “Your country’s genius politicians have forced us by law to grant access to a highly secure element of your iPhone and, by installing this third-party app, Apple is therefore absolved of all responsibility as this action makes it possible, even probable, that your personal and financial data will at some time be compromised and leaked for all the world to exploit.”


  1. The biased Bloomberg reporters conveniently don’t mention the laws allows for an exception of the vendor can show that providing such access to the NFC chip will compromise security, which it will.

    But I’m sure Apple would just turn of Apple Pay rather than comply with such a stupid law because a few banks don’t want to sign a deal with Apple like a lot of other banks already have

  2. But isn’t our data secured in the enclave anyway? Even if they open up the NFC reader this shouldn’t invalidate apple’s security measures for Apple Pay. It just means competing payment service will continue to be less secure and Apple will win due to competitive advantage. Who in their right mind would use a service other than Apple Pay anyway? It’s a no brainer and opening it up will get some gov officials off their back.

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