EU considers forcing Apple to open iPhone’s NFC chip to third parties

The European Union is considering new rules that would likely require Apple to give third parties access to the NFC chip inside iPhones. The new laws would prevent mobile device manufacturers from limiting access to near-field communication technology embedded in smartphones and other devices such as smartwatches, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News. Since launching NFC in the iPhone in 2014, Apple has limited the chip to its own Apple Pay service

Apple Pay is easy and works with the Apple devices you use every day. You can make secure purchases in stores, in apps, and on the web. And you can send and receive money from friends and family right in Messages. Apple Pay is even simpler than using your physical card, and safer too.
Apple Pay
Natalia Drozdiak and Alexander Weber for Bloomberg:

NFC technology handles wireless signals that allow users to pay via their devices at store terminals, rather than a credit or debit card. While the report did not mention Apple by name, at present iPhone and Apple Watch users can only make NFC payments using Apple Pay. Banks and other competitors have complained they want the same functionality for their own iPhone apps and that Apple won’t give them access to the chip.

The report is set to be unveiled next week by the European Commission as part of a package of policy proposals. It includes a footnote to a competition case launched by the European Commission’s antitrust arm in June, which is seeking to assess whether the iPhone giant unfairly blocks other providers from using the tap-and-go functionality on its smartphones.

“In parallel with its ongoing and future competition enforcement, the Commission will examine whether it is appropriate to propose legislation aimed at securing a right of access under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions, to technical infrastructures considered necessary to support the provision of payment services,” the EU says in the document.

MacDailyNews Take: The EU should not attempt to force Apple to open full access to iPhone’s NFC chip. Protecting iOS users’ security and privacy is paramount.

35 Comments

  1. If banks want access to a NFC chip for their customers, then they should develop their own hardware that does so. Again, we see more people wanting access to something they didn’t have the imagination to create. Nothing is free in Waterworld.

          1. Nobody made you buy the iPhone, and the iPhone ain’t the only way to use your banking information LOL. When you build the hardware and the software you get to control the device experience. Banking has existed in human society for thousands of years before the iPhone. You don’t anything close to an argument that will say otherwise. But have fun pounding out your little comment.

            1. But on my device that’s none of your or Apple’s business. You don’t own it!
              It like you own your Khakis, I can’t tell you whether to zipper your fly…. Nor do I want to.

          2. I generally expect sound logic in your posts, applecynic, even when I disagree with you. In this case, however, your assertion is invalidated by so many current examples that it beggars the imagination. You bought your car or truck, for instance, but you do not have access to the hundreds of processors and controllers in your vehicle, Try asking Ford or GM or Toyota or Fiat or BMW for access. Do you have access to your Xbox or PlayStation or Nintendo processors or co-processors? Can you even play an Xbox game on a Playststion? In fact, you are not even going to have control of the game media on some of these consoles anymore, and you will have to sign up to an online subscription to play.

            So let’s get past the flawed “I bought it” logic and get down to what really matters. The iPhone is a lifestyle device – all types of communications and media and health and games and commerce and news and data. So a smartphone has become an essential device in the modern world if you want to be “connected.” As a result, Apple is going to be forced to gradually open up its ecosystem, even if that weakens overall security. So, it is Apple’s best interest to proactively decide how to make this happen rather than waiting until it is mandated by law.

            1. It appears KingMel can type about as much garbage as an applecynic post. Your first paragraphs was sound logic, but a smartphone is suddenly an essential device? What law is that? Apple is going to be forced to open up its ecosystems? Hahahahahaha. What are you smoking this Saturday night? Might be fun

            2. Wow…what a barfalicious, disdainful, negative attack. Your post reminds me why this forum and this country is going down the crapper. Your antagonistic attitude is poison.

              How about a productive debate for once?

            3. A condo is a lifestyle device, not an iPhone demanding conformity.
              And yes, you CAN buy computers that reprogram chip[s in any car. And it’s legal!

            4. The point that I was attempting to make is that Apple is in a difficult position. If Apple expects to be forced to open up aspects of its ecosystem, then I believe that it would be better for Apple to address this need proactively rather than being forced to react in haste to a court order.

              —————

              applecynic, at the risk of extending a debate which seems destined to change nothing, the car makers do not provide access to their chips (at least, to the best of my knowledge). You gain that access via third party tools, and some of those that impact emissions appear to be illegal.

              My analogy using cars and trucks may not have been the best, but it was better than the “you bought it, you own it” argument. There are thousands of consumer electronic products on the market – how many of those manufacturers provide third party access into their proprietary chips? Notably, you failed to address my gaming console analogy? An oversight on your part, perhaps? Or an inconvenient truth?

              Our arguments on this topic ultimately amount to nothing. This will be adjudicated by court systems in the EU and elsewhere.

          3. Applecynic, you’re right; they DID sell the chip. However, they didn’t sell the software that runs it (including iOS); they only licensed that. So the banks – and, for that matter, the EU – are free to come up with their own software that gives them access to the NFC chip.

            Of course, with the way that iOS is structured, that means that they will have to come up with a whole new operating system for iPhone, and then convince people that their new OS is better to use than iOS is.

            Sounds like a Pyrric victory to me.

            1. Closest point to validity so far.

              Yes they licensed the software. Fine. If I can’t substitute my licensed copy of the software, then they must not inhibit me from using my hardware and allow a substitution. That’s at minimum.

              And thank goodnes you didn’t bring up the EULA which is a unilateral unnegotioated contract of dubious validity and enforceability.

    1. They could do that. Then you Apple fanboys would whine incessantly about how every bank makes it hard for Apple with all their incompatible proprietary systems that you, the consumer, have to pay for.

  2. I guess the EU’s thinking is to reduce iPhone’s dominance in security which it must think is predatory so it wants to punish Apple by forcing it to make its apps work on Android, etc. which is an unfair and reckless imposition, in my opinion. Perhaps I don’t fully understand the EU’s concern.

    1. You have to realize that in some things interoperability and standardization benefit everyone.

      Apple only hurts its users when it doesn’t allow its phone to work with EU banks, transit, and so forth. The rest of the world isn’t going to always dance to Apple’s tune, nor should they. The public agencies and properly regulated banks in the EU or the US shouldn’t have to make their terminals operate with the proprietary NFC protocols every mobile phone maker wants to put in their phones.

      The biggest difference between the EU and the USA is that in the EU works on behalf of citizens to make infrastructure just work. It pulls all the companies in an industry together and hashes out a consumer -friendly solution. GSM mobile phone standard for example. In the USA, there are no government negotiations to establish standards. Government is for sale to the highest bidder. The biggest corporations balkanize and divide markets at the expense of consumers. So the USA has had the most unfriendly telecoms in the world, charging high prices for slow speeds. Incompatible Mobile networks: CDMA and, belatedly, GSM. Two mobile chipsets needed in each smartphone or specialized models for ATT versus Verizon networks — not because the user sees any benefit, but because the network duopolists can’t or won’t make anything work universally.

      Don’t pretend Apple is any different than any other greedy corporation. Example: proprietary Lightning connection costs 3 times what any USB connection does, and forces Apple users to buy shitloads of pointless adapters. Cheap skinny poor quality wires that fall apart. Tons of landfill fodder for a company that pretends to be green.

      Good for the EU for actually caring about citizens over rich corporations.

      1. Bullsh-t! Apple has had to create Apps (iMessage) for it’s ecosystems, because all the others (Windows) didn’t support Macs or iPhones, but as it turns out people who own Macs and iPhones pay there bills, Apples ecosystems are the best Windows and Android are second class twins.

  3. The EU wants Apple to add the headphone jack back, put in an micro SD slot, and have a few more mandatory suggested design changes. How do these officials have the time to help Apple with all this pandemic stuff? Impressive.

      1. lol 😂 lmao 🤣 ignoring facts are we? Parts of Europe are going back into strict lock down. It turns out their measures weren’t so effective after all. Bahahaha. Once again proving Trump right.

  4. There are arguments for forcing Apple to open aspects of its NFC hardware. For example, Apple has barely allowed anyone to access the hardware to use the phone as a loyalty card, transit card, access card, etc.

  5. It’s funny, but my bank cards work fine with my fingerprint and holding near the card terminal. I do not have an Apple Card. But I’m in Canada where our banks are less Byzantine than in the stupid usa

      1. What is there to understand? freeloaders want to attach themselves to the profit Winner, Apple doesn’t have to have a app store or a so-called pay system to sell their devices but they do because Apple is a small part of the total computing market and from time to time they need to create usable software for their users within the OS it’s not Apples problem they seem to know how to design (implement) the best solution.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.