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Apple, Visa and Mastercard Face Another Anti-trust Lawsuit

Categories : Cash does not require a technology infrastructure, Cash ensures competition among payment instruments, Cash is efficient
December 18, 2023
Tags : Apple, Mastercard, payment competition, Visa
A US-based merchant is suing Apple, Visa, and Mastercard for allegedly conspiring to thwart competition for point-of-sale card services, leading merchants to pay inflated fees for credit and debit transactions.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

Thwarting Competition

According to Reuters, the class action lawsuit claims Apple colluded with Visa and Mastercard to refrain from competing with the card schemes by developing its own competing point-of-sale network.  In exchange, the card schemes paid Apple a “very large and ongoing cash bribe” of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, says the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges that the three companies acted to prevent competition by blocking third parties from using the iPhone’s ‘Secure Element,’ which could have been used to build mobile payment networks that bypassed Visa and Mastercard routing.

The EU Investigation

In 2022, the EU competition authority warned Apple that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices.

“We have indications that Apple restricted third-party access to key technology necessary to develop rival mobile wallet solutions on Apple’s devices. In our Statement of Objections, we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.” – Margrethe Vestager, EU Commission Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy

On 12 December, Apple announced it would allow rivals to access its tap-and-go mobile payments systems used for mobile wallets, reported Reuters. This move could settle EU antitrust charges and stave off a hefty fine.

In March 2023, a US federal appeals court upheld a $5.6 billion antitrust class action settlement with more than 12 million merchants that accused Visa and Mastercard of improperly fixing merchant fees for debit and credit card transactions.

This post is also available in: Spanish