A lawsuit has been launched against Apple over the management of its popular mobile payments wallet, Apple Pay.
Filed by Affinity Credit Union on behalf of itself and “all similarly situated payment card issuers”, the complaint alleges that Apple “coerces” iPhone users into adopting its own contactless payments solution.
“Apple’s conduct harms not only issuers, but also consumers and competitions as a whole,” the document asserts.
Apple Pay under the spotlight
Unlike popular Android-based payments wallets like Google Pay and Samsung Pay, Apple charges card issuers a 0.15% fee for each credit card transaction and a 0.5c fee on each debit card purchase made via Apple Pay.
According to Affinity Credit Union, the company’s unwillingness to allow alternative wallets onto its iOS platform leads thousands of banks and credit unions to pay upwards of $1 billion in additional fees each year.
Further, the plaintiff has asserted that the lack of viable Apple Pay alternatives on iOS has ultimately disincentivized product innovation, leading to adverse effects for end users too.
“As a result of Apple’s exclusionary conduct, Plaintiff and other issuers pay, and have paid, fees they would not have incurred in a competitive market. But that is not the extent of the harm,” the filing states.
“If there were multiple Tap and Pay iOS Mobile Wallets, the competing firms would need to innovate to differentiate their offerings, for example by improving the security of transactions. Consumers and issuers have been deprived of that innovation.”
The filing goes on to demand a halt to the anticompetitive practices detailed in the complaint, in addition to as yet unspecified damages.
However, the lawsuit is just the latest development in the debate over Apple’s behavior in the sector. The EU, for example, is currently investigating whether Apple can be said to have abused its dominant position in hardware and mobile operating systems to unfairly benefit its position in payments.
If the regulators come to that conclusion, Apple could be on the hook for as much as 10% of its global turnover, although the maximum penalty is unlikely to be handed out.
TechRadar Pro has asked Apple for comment on the latest lawsuit.
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