Australian Commonwealth Bank scoffs at Apple’s “pro-competition” claim

  • Apple welcomes competition if no one rivals Apple – CBA
  • CBA wants Apple to open its NFC chip for other mobile payments
  • Regulator probes Apple’s digital payment system

SYDNEY, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) on Thursday accused Apple Inc (AAPL.O) of anti-competitive behavior over controlling payments on its phones, which have grown to around a third of all payments in person. payments the country’s largest lender process.

Matt Comyn, chief executive of the Sydney-based bank, urged lawmakers to step up scrutiny of tech giants, saying payments through digital wallets developed by Apple and Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) amounted to around 45 % of all consumer physical payments, as distinct from other payments such as online direct debits or direct debits.

“The claim that Apple is pro-competition, I think, is a fair statement, as long as one accepts that competition is welcome as long as no one can compete with Apple,” Comyn told a regular parliamentary committee .

The bank has asked Apple to release the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip on its phones for use in banks’ own apps, estimating that the US company captures 80% of all contactless transactions made through smartphones and watches. connected.

Contactless payments are growing rapidly in Australia, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, and Comyn estimates that customers complete over 90% of their transactions.

Apple, which requires banks to process all contactless payments through its digital wallet and pay undisclosed fees, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

“It’s analogous to imagining a world today where, on your Apple phone, the only person who could determine which carrier you used is Apple,” Comyn said.

Shayne Elliott, managing director of Australia’s fourth-largest lender and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ.AX), which was the first in the country to link Apple Pay with credit cards, said he had not focused on the issue “until specific complaint”.

“It’s a bit ironic, one of Australia’s biggest companies is complaining about having to deal with other big competitors,” Elliott told the parliamentary committee.

Apple last month said in a Senate inquiry that its payments app was “pro-competitive,” and accused companies of calling for more scrutiny of its products to do so “for their own business gain.” .

The findings of the investigation have not been released.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which examined whether Apple had violated competition laws, declined to comment on Thursday.

Its leader, Rod Sims, told the Australian Financial Review last week that the issue was complex and that the antitrust agency “is approaching this issue with an open mind.”

Unlike Apple, search giant Google allows banks and other third parties to access its NFC chip.

The investigation comes as global regulators take a growing interest in Apple and Google’s dominance in the mobile phone market.

South Korea last month approved a bill to ban major app store operators, including Apple, from forcing software developers to use their payment systems. Read more

In Germany, lawmakers decided in 2019 to force Apple to open up its mobile payment system to its competitors for a reasonable price.

Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Miyoung Kim

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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