A collection of major banks in Australia, which includes Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Bendigo, and others, have filed a new application with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which effectively narrows the collective’s arguments against Apple, while at the same time aiming to get what it perceives as a benefit well ahead of those banks formally adopting the mobile payment option, Apple Pay.
The new application is similar to the one the collection of banks filed in July of last year, but it whittles down the complaints against Apple in hopes that they can get what they’re really after: full access to the NFC capabilities within the iPhone. According to the application, the banks see Apple’s locking down of the NFC capabilities in the iPhone as anti-competitive. They say Apple has a “stranglehold” on the technology, and add that with those limits in place, no real competition can become a reality:
“Open access to the NFC function on iPhone is required to enable real choice and real competition for consumers, and to facilitate innovation and investment in the digital wallets available to Australians. Without open NFC access on iPhone, no genuine competition in the provision of mobile wallets is possible and Apple will have a stranglehold on this strategically important future market.”
The banks say that they are “supported by nearly all of Australia’s leading retailers,” because of what they are trying to get out of accessing the iPhone’s NFC capabilities. Specifically, the banks believe that if they gain access to these features, they can provide public benefits without depending upon Apple, including member security, loyalty programs, and more.
Interestingly enough, the banks have removed any complaints over fees that Apple would gather from banks adopting the mobile payment option. In the statement, the application says that the banks want to adopt Apple Pay, but they do not want to automatically limit customer choice by doing so:
“The applicants are ready, willing, and able to participate in Apple Pay, alongside being able to offer their customers their own mobile wallet products,” payments specialist and spokesperson on behalf of the applicants, Lance Blockley, said.
“This application has always been about consumer choice, and allowing competition between the makers of mobile wallets to offer the best products and features they can to determine which mobile wallet consumers will use. The applicants want to put up their digital offerings head to head with Apple Pay, and let the market and individual consumers decide which best suits their needs.”
For Apple’s part, the company has said in the past that opening access to the iPhone’s NFC capabilities is like launching a “Trojan horse,” and that while the banks continue to deny the mobile payment option, they negatively impact small businesses and consumers. The banks flatly deny all of these claims by Apple, though:
“The applicants flatly reject Apple’s unsupported assertions that the application is about an objection to the fees that Apple wishes to impose, rather than NFC access. Apple’s conspiracy theories about “Trojan horse fees” are similarly dismissed by the applicants as fantasy.”
Earlier this month, Apple again accused the Australian banks of delaying the rollout and adoption of Apple Pay. On top of that, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, recently said that Apple Pay is being used the most in Australia compared to where else the mobile payment option is available. And it’s not even supported by the region’s biggest banks (yet).