Apple in War of Words With Australian Banks

Thousands of miles away from its controversial taxation issues in Ireland, Apple has more trouble brewing, this time in Australia. The tech giant has accused banks there of exhibiting cartel-like behaviour.  

A spat has broken out between Apple and some of Australia's largest banks and is becoming increasingly inflamed. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank accuse Apple of acting against the interests of customers in an escalating row over collective bargaining rights for Near Field Communication (NFC) access to iPhones.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank have formed a collective and are seeking permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to engage in collective negotiation and boycott activities with Apple in relation to the Apple Pay platform and with other third party wallet providers.

Cartel Like Behaviour 

By working together, the banks hope to exert pressure on Apple and win access to the iPhone NFC antenna for their own contactless payments apps, as they already have with Android devices.

Apple in return has accused the banks of exhibiting cartel-like behaviour, stifling competition and creating undue security risks.

However one bank ANZ has broken ranks with its fellow group and has been accused by its rivals of «pulling a fast one» when it walked away from a world-first effort to make Apple let iPhone users access contactless payments via the banks' own apps.

ANZ this week commenced the rollout of Apple Pay to more than 500,000 customers with a Mastercard credit card, following an earlier release to its five million debit card holders in April.

Apple Blocking Access

In a joint statement refuting Apple's claims, the applicant banks claim: «Apple’s submission to the ACCC makes it clear that Apple does not want to give iPhone users the ability to choose an integrated third party wallet of their own preference. Unlike users of Samsung and Android, Apple is blocking access to the NFC function and wants to leave iPhone users with no choice but to use Apple Pay.»

The banks have already won the backing of large Australian merchants in the debate, with both Coles and the Australian Retailers Association writing supportive submissions to the competition watchdog.

The ACCC is now not expected to make a formal decision on the matter until October.



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