EU opens antitrust investigations into Apple Pay and the App Store


Apple is under the microscope in Europe.

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Within the course of a single day, Apple has found itself the subject of two new EU antitrust probes. Europe’s Competition Commission announced on Tuesday that it was opening dual investigations into Apple Pay and the App Store.

The App Store investigation was triggered by a complaint from Spotify over a year due to the high percentage of fees Apple charges companies when consumers make in-app purchases. The investigation will focus on the restrictions Apple places on developers to inform consumers of payment options that may be cheaper outside of the app.

“It appears that Apple obtained a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books.”

The investigation into Apple Pay will focus on the way Apple restricts rival apps and services from making use of the iPhone’s NFC capabilities, which enables Apple Pay’s tap-and-go feature.

“It is important that Apple’s measures do not deny consumers the benefits of new payment technologies, including better choice, quality, innovation and competitive prices,” said Vestager. She added that the coronavirus outbreak had demonstrated the importance of being able to use contactless payment in stores.

For Apple, this will not be the company’s first run-in with Europe’s Competition Commission or Vestager. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook responded to a $14.5 billion tax penalty handed out by Vestager to the company by calling it “political crap.”

Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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