Australian Bank Slams Apple Pay – Report

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Head of Australian bank complains to lawmakers about Apple’s alleged monopolist control of its NFC-based Apple Pay system

The head of Commonwealth Bank of Australia has accused Apple of uncompetitive behaviour over its control of payments on its phones.

The criticism came when Matt Comyn, chief executive at the Sydney-based Commonwealth Bank of Australia was speaking to an Australian parliamentary committee about smartphone-based payments made by consumers.

Apple introduced Apple Pay to the world back in 2014, which digitises and replaces a credit or debit card chip and PIN transaction at a contactless-capable point-of-sale terminal.

Monopolist behaviour

Despite its popularity, Matt Comyn of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia called on Aussie lawmakers to boost scrutiny of technology giants, pointing to payments through digital wallets developed by Apple and Alphabet’s Google.

He told lawmakers that Apple and Android’s NFC payment systems make up about 45 percent of all physical consumer payments in Australia, as distinct from other payments such as online or direct debits.

“The … claim that Apple is pro-competition, I think, is a fair statement, as long as one accepts that competition is welcome as long as no one can compete with Apple,” Comyn was quoted by Reuters as telling a regular parliamentary committee.

The bank has reportedly been calling for Apple to free up the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip on its phones for the use of banks’ own apps.

It estimates Apple captures 80 percent of all contactless transactions done through smartphones and smartwatches.

Contactless payments

Australia has a rapidly growing contactless payments movement fuelled in part by the Coronavirus pandemic and mobile payment services such as Apple Pay.

Comyn estimated customers tap more than 90 percent of their transactions.

Reuters reported that Apple requires banks to process all contactless payments through its digital wallet and pay an undisclosed fee.

The iPhone maker declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

“It is analogous to imagine a world today where, on your Apple phone, the only person that could determine which carrier you used is Apple,” Comyn reportedly said.

Unlike Apple, Google allows banks and other third parties to access its NFC chip.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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