Apple to face tap-and-pay 'monopolisation' lawsuit

Apple will have to face a lawsuit against Apple alleging it unlawfully monopolises the market for tap-and-pay mobile wallets, a US judge has ruled.

Filed last year, the lawsuit from Affinity Credit Union, GreenState Credit Union, and Consumers Co-Op Credit Union centres on claims that Apple limits access to the utilisation of the NFC chips used to make payments through its mobile devices to Apple Pay and apps without payment functionality.

The lawsuit says that Android mobile devices do not do this, meaning consumers are free to utilise a range of mobile wallet tap-to-pay providers such as Google Pay and Samsung Pay and are not railroaded into using a single provider to make tap payments with.

The credit unions’ filing also claims that Apple's conduct in effectively nullifying competing mobile wallet usage on its devices forces more than 4,000 banks and credit unions that use the payment service to pay at least $1 billion of excess fees. Additionally, it said that Apple’s strategy harms consumers by minimising the incentive to make Apple Pay safer and easier to use.

Lawyers representing the credit unions further alleged that Apple Pay is “unlawfully tied” to Apple’s phone, tablets, and wallets.

In this instance, presiding judge Jeffrey White sided with Apple’s argument that the claim fell flat because Apple Pay is free and the company doesn’t force people to use it.

However, in his overall conclusions, White said the possibility that Apple violated several dictates of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 – which prescribes the rule of free competition among those engaged in commerce – was “plausible.”

In dismissing Apple’s motion to dismiss the case, Judge White ordered that “the parties shall appear for a case management conference 1 December” and must each submit a joint case management statement by 22 November.

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