Australia’s competition regulator has officially determined that four of the country’s major banks cannot negotiate with Apple as a block.
It’s confirmation of an interim decision, prompted at the banks’ request, late last summer. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac had collectively sought to negotiate with Apple as a cartel over access to its NFC technology, in a bid to better position their own banking apps to resist Apple Pay. Apple argued that this was essentially anti-competitive, with the banks acting as a cartel.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has now ruled that acceding to the banks’ request would be “likely to reduce or distort competition”, rejecting their application.
It’s a significant win for Apple, and even for the banks concerned, the conclusion of the issue may offer some relief. ANZ, the only major Australian bank to defect from the coalition and offer Apple Pay support early last year, reported an increase in online account applications from its customers, and both ING Direct and Macquarie announced support for the platform this past February, evidently seeing opportunity in offering Apple Pay to their customers. Now, the big banks that had resisted Apple can go ahead and start negotiating to enable the service – but each of them will have to do so on its own.