EU weighs legislation that could force Apple open iPhone NFC chip to third-parties

The European Union is weighing legislation that could force Apple to open the iPhone NFC chip to competitors. The potential rules would grant other payment services a right of access to infrastructure such as near-field communication technology embedded in smartphones, the European Commission said Thursday.

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While the EU didn’t explicitly name Apple, it said the “most commonly reported issue” related to mobile device manufacturers restricting third-party access to NFC chips. The components handle wireless signals that allow users to pay via their smartphones or watches at store terminals.

At present, iPhone and Apple Watch users can only make NFC payments using Apple Pay. Banks and other competitors have said they want the same functionality for their own iPhone apps but that Apple refuses access to the chip.

“We believe legislation that dictates a company’s technical approach to hardware and software security will ultimately put customers at risk and stifle innovation,” an Apple spokesman said. “We plan to work with the European Commission to help them understand the benefits of Apple Pay.”

Apple has previously said it restricts access to the NFC chip for security reasons. It said granting rival mobile payment apps access to the chip, decoupled from Apple’s added layer of security, could increase the risk of fraud and other security breaches.

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.

9 Comments

  1. There are other alternatives. WePay uses QR codes, Starbucks uses a barcode. You don’t NEED NFC to make a payment system.

    The banks want a free ride… which would allow them to give consumers a fee ride. It’s likely that Apple sets terms for fees to some extent for banks.

    1. The issue here is not just that the Apple critics want to allow access to the NFC chip and other iPhone security features, but that they also want to eliminate the App Store’s exclusivity. Apple could provide programming interfaces for safe NFC use if it could review the safety of all the apps that use the chip. However, the critics want to allow developers to write unsafe or exploitative apps and distribute them directly to the public. The average iPhone user is not in a position to assess the security of apps offered on an open market.

  2. I tell you what, you go spend the money on expensive research and, when you find something new that works nicely, I’ll jump in and take part for free. Everyone will benefit…ya know.

  3. The EU seems to attempt to force Apple to compete with insecure systems by making its own system equally as insecure; It’s a big risk to the payment information system, would increase the cost to nations to police and prosecute criminals, but it would also cost Apple to troubleshoot and track down to who or what is responsible for problems and infractions.

  4. I’m not exactly sure I like how governing bodies can force any platform to do their bidding, but I suppose it’s either that or they don’t allow iOS devices to be sold in their country(ies). I kind of wonder if the citizens of those countries want the same thing as the governing bodies. I guess Apple is going to keep getting screwed by third-parties as time goes on. Apple’s walled-garden is slowly being knocked down by anyone with a grievance.

  5. There are ways you can open up NFC that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. For example, why are NFC-enabled PassKit uses so rare? Very very few loyalty cards are able to use NFC because Apple doesn’t readily let developers use it.

    Why are only a select few university campuses allowed to use host card emulation to open doors? If it’s good enough for Apple to use on their own campuses and universities, it should be good enough for everyone to be able to use (rather than relying on Bluetooth, which is much more open and the world hasn’t fallen in).

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