Apple is fighting back against a coalition of Australian banks trying to get access to its iPhones’ NFC technology.
Last month, Bendigo Bank, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac collectively petitioned the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last month for the right to negotiate with Apple as a formal block, with the aim of forcing Apple to let their mobile banking apps leverage the iPhone’s NFC functionality, which is the technology allowing for contactless mobile payments. It was the latest shot in a longstanding battle between Apple and Australia’s major banks, which have resisted Apple Pay’s incursion into their market, and the ACCC has yet to issue its decision.
In its own submission to the ACCC, Apple is now arguing that allowing third party access to its smartphones’ NFC antennas would fundamentally compromise the security of the devices, and moreover that the banks’ coalition would essentially be a cartel in violation of Australian antitrust law. That latter point echoes previous suggestions from at least one prominent Australian politician, who argued last year that the banks’ resistance to Apple Pay was anti-competitive.
Meanwhile, one of the country’s major banks, ANZ, defected from the coalition earlier this year, choosing to offer its support to Apple Pay. The bank evidently saw the rise of Apple Pay as irresistible, and given how the service continues to spread around the world along with other major mPayment platforms, ANZ’s move could ultimately prove to have been prescient—but that now depends, to a considerable extent, on what the ACCC rules.