Mobile payments services such as Apple Pay are in European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s cross-hairs, weeks after her team sought industry feedback about Facebook Inc.’s planned Libra digital currency project.
The European Commission asked online-payment providers, banks and app businesses last month about how Apple Inc. devices may favor Apple Pay over other payment solutions, MLex reported. Regulators confirmed they’d sent requests for information to market participants, without naming Apple.
“The commission monitors possible anti-competitive market practices and abusive conduct,” the EU said in an emailed statement. “In this context, the commission is actively monitoring the development of mobile payment solutions, the behavior by operators active in the payments sector, including mobile payments.”
Big technology companies are getting intense attention from regulators over concerns they could leverage their power to march into new industries. Apple is already the target of a complaint to the EU from Spotify Technology SA over alleged discrimination after it launched its own music-streaming service.
Apple didn’t immediately comment on the questionnaires. Apple Pay has been slow to roll out across Europe, only becoming available at the end of last year in Germany, the region’s largest market.
The preliminary investigation follows similar information requests in August on Facebook’s Libra that checked whether the proposed payment system might unfairly shut out rivals or create competition restrictions over data. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, has warned that financial technology companies need to have “a real chance to compete” to unlock their potential.
French competition regulators are also looking at how Apple Pay and others may “gain strong positions in the payment sector while also having strongholds elsewhere,” the head of the French authority said in a July interview. Her officials are weighing a study on fintech and payment systems.