Apple Pay Wars: ACCC wants more time before deciding
Initial application by banks for speedy authorisation to negotiate together rejected.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has knocked back an application by several of Australia's biggest banks for interim authorisation to collectively negotiate with Apple over access to Apple Pay and the NFC chip on iPhones, saying it needs more time before deciding whether the move is justified.
"In deciding not to grant interim authorisation, the ACCC took into account the potential for continuing effects on competition in the market, the extent of urgency for the request, any possible harm to the applicants or other parties if interim authorisation is granted or denied, and possible public benefits and detriments," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“The entire ACCC authorisation process usually takes up to six months, including the release of a draft decision for consultation before making a final decision. We expect to release a draft decision in October 2016. The ACCC’s decision not to grant interim authorisation at this time is not indicative of whether or not a draft or final authorisation will be granted."
Last month, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac and the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank asked the ACCC to fast-track an authorisation for collective negotiating, which is banned under competition law. As well as Apple, the banks wanted to collectively negotiate with Google over Android Pay and Samsung over Samsung Pay.
To date, only ANZ and American Express have launched support for Apple Pay, which allows contactless payments using an iPhone, in Australia. It's widely believed that Apple wants a bigger cut of each transaction than the banks are willing to pay.
In a submission to the ACCC, Apple argued that allowing anyone else access to the NFC chip on iPhones would represent a major security risk. However, other finance industry players, including Tryo and Heritage Bank, made submissions supporting the application.
A spokesperson for the applicant banks said that they will "continue to be in consultation with the ACCC up until the final determination is made", adding: "This application seeks to ensure that Australian customers are able to choose between different mobile wallets to make payments easily."