European Union says Apple unfairly blocks access to the iPhone’s NFC tech

The European Union (EU) says Apple breaks EU law by unfairly blocking third-party access to the iPhone’s NFC payment tech, reports the Financial Times, citing unnamed “sources familiar with the matter.” (A subscription is required to read the article.)

The article says Apple will be accused of “unfairly blocking groups such as PayPal and leading banks from accessing its mobile wallet system” by the EU. The tech giant could face heavy penalties if the accusation proceeds.

What is NFC?

N FC allows devices which are equipped with the technology to share data when they’re in very close proximity (around four inches). We’ve noted that NFC already comes as standard in some new smartphones. It can also be found in a wide range of other devices, including laptops and tablets. NFC chips are also common in contactless-enabled credit cards. Devices equipped with NFC chips can thus be used to exchange small amounts of data between one another.

The main difference between NFC and, for example, Bluetooth is that it doesn’t require device discovery or manual pairing to share information. NFC enables two-way communication between devices once they’re within that four-inch distance. That’s without the use of WiFi or 4G. NFC is an evolution of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which uses readers to decode data transmitted via radio waves.

Because NFC has such a limited radius, it offers a reliable degree of security. This has done much to assist its popularity with the general public, by reassuring consumers that they can make contactless payments safely. Above all, however, NFC has been a hit with consumers because of its simplicity. It allows them to make purchases without the hassle of carrying cash, and it’s also quicker and simpler than chip-and-PIN payment.

Other EU complaints

On April 25 it was noted that a new document shows the European Commission will force Apple to allow users to utilize third-party app stores and payment systems. 

It will force Apple to make its Message interoperable with other messaging apps — including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger — to adhere to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

If Apple and other companies don’t comply, the European Commission can impose fines of up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover or 20% in the event of repeated infringements and periodic penalty payments of up to 5% of the company’s total worldwide daily turnover.

Not surprisingly, Apple strongly opposes the DMA. The tech giant told ABC News on March 25 that “it was concerned that parts of the Digital Markets Act “will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users while others will prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest a great deal.”

The EU is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its policies aim “to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.