The days of the iPhone’s NFC capabilities being limited to just Apple Pay are coming to an end. Apple is open to allowing rivals to use the iPhone wireless tap-to-pay system. But only in the European Union.
The change is the result of antitrust charges brought by the EU.
More than Apple Pay soon have iPhone tap-to-pay access in the EU
An iPhone and Apple Pay can be sued to make a transaction at a store or restaurant point-of-sale machine. The connection between the two devices happens over NFC (Near Field Communications), and the tap-to-go process via iPhone is very convenient, especially as shoppers and businesses move away from cash. But don’t try that same trick with PayPal — Apple doesn’t allow it.
The EU formally objected to this policy in 2022, stating that it “stifled innovation and prevented competition in the mobile wallet market.” An unconfirmed report in December indicated Apple was willing to drop the restriction in order to settle the European Union’s antitrust accusations.
This has now been confirmed, as Apple sent an official statement to Reuters on Friday saying:
“We have offered commitments to provide third-party developers in the European Economic Area with an option that will enable their users to make NFC contactless payments from within their iOS apps, separate from Apple Pay and Apple Wallet.”
The European Commission is reportedly looking for input from other makers of mobile wallets to see whether Apple’s offer will settle the antitrust problem. But this is likely to be the end of the EU’s objections to Apple’s limits on NFC in the iPhone. And without the need for the EU to hit Cupertino with a big fine.
That said, it won’t open up the iPhone tap-to-pay feature to other payment systems in the United States or elsewhere. This is an EU-only solution.