European antitrust regulators are asking online retailers if they are contractually obligated to use Apple Pay over rival services.
The European Commission suggests it has information that Apple could have restricted online payments for goods and services using rival payment solutions. This would be in breach of EU antitrust rules.
Regulators sent retailers a questionnaire back in August, asking about their dealings with Apple Pay.
“The Commission is actively monitoring the development of mobile payment solutions, the behaviour by operators active in the payments sector, including mobile payments,” the EU competition enforcer told Reuters.
Apple says that Apple Pay offers the safest and most secure mobile payments in the world. However, it could fall afoul of regulators if it unfairly prioritizes it over rival offerings. For example, some have complained that Apple Pay’s status as default payment option on the iPhone is unfair.
Apple Pay launched in October 2014. To date, it has arrived in more than 50 countries around the world. That includes upward of 20 EU countries.
Beyond Apple Pay: Antitrust (and other) challenges for Apple
The EU’s antitrust investigation into Apple isn’t the only such complaint it faces. Spotify has complained about the 30% cut Apple takes of App Store sales.
In September, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee requested access to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s archive of emails. This could wind up leading to some sort of U.S. antitrust investigation, of the sort called for by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
At times, Apple has had a challenging relationship with the European Commission. Tim Cook has expressed admiration for the EU’s stance on data privacy. But the EU has also challenged Apple on things like tax — leading to its enormous tax bill a couple years back.