Australia won’t let banks gang up on Apple Pay

By

Apple Pay
Apple gets its way down under.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission won’t let banks team up to bargain with Cupertino over Apple Pay fees.

Three of the country’s four major banks applied to negotiate with Apple together, and potentially boycott the wireless payments service if no deal was reached. Now that the banks’ request has been denied by the ACCC, they’ll be forced to work out individual agreements over Apple Pay.

Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank — part of Australia’s “Big Four” largest banks — and smaller competitor Bendigo and Adelaide Bank wanted to engage in collective bargaining with Apple. The banks have so far failed to reach agreements with Apple due to Cupertino’s “intransigent, closed and controlling” approach to Apple Pay.

The banks argued that Apple should not be allowed to block rival payment services from using the NFC chip inside the iPhone that makes secure mobile payments possible. They have also been unhappy about Apple Pay fees.

Back in October, the banks requested permissions from the ACCC to negotiate collectively or launch an official boycott, but that won’t be happening.

The future of Apple Pay in Australia

This is just a draft decision, with a final ruling expected in March 2017. This gives the banks some time to appeal the decision and hope that the ACCC changes its mind. In the meantime, however, they won’t be allowed to enter talks with Apple as a team.

“We believe today’s draft decision is great for Australians and we look forward to continuing to work with individual banks in Australia and around the world to bring Apple Pay to their customers,” an Apple spokesperson told ABC Australia.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the benefits of allowing collective bargaining are uncertain.

“This is currently a finely balanced decision,” Sims said. “The ACCC is not currently satisfied that the likely benefits from the proposed conduct outweigh the likely detriments.”

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, the final of Australia’s Big Four banks, as well as American Express and Cuscal have all reached agreements with Apple for customers in Australia.