Apple claims banks want digital wallets as a new revenue source
Apple says three of the big four banks are pushing to pass the costs of Apple Pay on to their customers as a way to “condition the market” into paying extra fees when using a mobile phone to make a ‘tap and go’ payment.
One of the issues in the long-running battle between Apple and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corp and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is whether the banks can pass through to their customers the fee that Apple will require them to pay to use the iPhone infrastructure.
But Apple has described the argument as a “trojan horse”. In a submission published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Friday, Apple suggests this issue of fees, rather than the bank’s other demand for access to the iPhone’s communication antenna, is motivating the banks, who are all developing their own digital wallets to compete against Apple’s. Digital wallets allow mobile phones to be used to pay through contactless payment terminals.
“Put simply, the applicant banks have the means, notice and opportunity to disadvantage Apple Pay by pricing Apple Pay transactions above transactions made using their own proprietary issuer digital wallets to dissuade cardholders from using Apple Pay,” Apple said. The banks have an “incentive to charge fees to consumers for using Apple Pay to steer customers towards their proprietary payment apps”.
Once the market became accustomed to being charged for using Apple Pay instead of a card, Apple says the banks would be “setting a precedent for charging for mobile payments on other digital wallets, in the future, including the banks’ own proprietary wallets”. The banks could “tacitly extend the imposition of those fees to any digital wallet transaction as a new revenue source,” Apple added.
ANZ Banking Group broke ranks with the other banks to offer Apple Pay last year; the fee ANZ is paying to Apple has not been confirmed but is understood to be a few cents per $100 of transactions. But ANZ is prevented by its contract with Apple from charging customers for using the service.
The banks’ final submission to the ACCC will be published this week, ahead of the regulator making a decision on the authorisation request, which is expected next month.
Apple said that if authorisation is granted, it will merely provide “cover” for the banks. “The incentive to compete away these fees at the retail level is reduced or removed if there is an ACCC authorised ability to impose Apple Pay transaction fees which provides shelter for their own fees,” Apple said.
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