Apple has issued its formal response to an attempt by several of Australia’s major banks to negotiate with the company as a block.
The banks—Adelaide, Bendigo, Commonwealth, NAB, and Westpac—appealed to the Australian Competitition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) earlier this summer to allow them to team up in negotiating with Apple to compel the company to allow them access to its iPhones’ NFC technology. The effort is ultimately about competition on mobile and digital payments, as the banks want their mPayment and digital wallet apps to be able to function as contactless solutions on Apple’s popular iPhones. The banks went so far as to request interim approval for the negotiating block ahead of the ACCC’s formal decision.
That request was denied earlier this month, and Apple has now submitted its 43-page response to the banks’ request to the ACCC. While Apple had previously issued public statement suggesting that allowing the banks access to its NFC technology would risk the security of iPhone users, the argument in its formal submission hinges on an argument that the banks’ forming of a block would essentially create an oligopolist cartel and would hinder free competition and innovation.
Meanwhile, ANZ, the only one of Australia’s big banks to defect from the block and offer Apple Pay support, seems to be reaping some rewards from its Apple-friendly stance. The Financial Review estimates that about 250,000 ANZ customers are now actively using Apple Pay, and the bank has just expanded its support by allowing Mastercard customers to upload their payment cards to the service, whereas only Visa and Amex cardholders were eligible before. That success may not escape the ACCC’s notice as it considers Apple’s arguments about competition and innovation; it certainly won’t escape the attention of the rival banks.