Australian banks have opened a new front in their battle to gain access to the NFC chip on Apple's mobile wallet, in written submissions to a parliamentary enquiry on mobile payments reform.
The banks contend that by restricting direct access to the NFC chip in its mobile devices, Apple is potentially stifling innovation and increasing transaction costs for mobile payments. In a request for evidence from Apple, the Comittee wrote: "These submissions argue that, this practice has triggered regulatory intervention and antitrust investigations in some international jurisdictions, including Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the EU. "Whilst Apple’s own submission points out that banking apps and digital wallet providers in Australia are able to initiate NFC payments on iOS devices, these transactions must still be routed through the Apple Wallet and the Apple Pay platform, thereby potentially incurring additional costs for merchants and card issuers." The Committee notes that this practice is different from Google’s approach with Android devices, on which third-parties have direct access to the NFC chip. In its written response, Apple argues that it does provides banks with access to NFC functionality on iOS devices via APIs that allow them to create diffferentiated experiences for consumers. "All banks pay the same fees regardless of size and each bank is presented equally in the user experience," the submission notes. The last attempt by Australia's banks to open up access to Apple's payments antenna ended in failure after their application was rebuffed by the country's competition watchdog in March 2017.