Banking Cartel in Australia Fighting to Get Access to Apple’s NFC

Banking Cartel in Australia Fighting to Get Access to Apple’s NFC

The major Australian banks and Apple got into loggerheads last year and the battle still continues. When the big banks of Australia namely NAB and Commonwealth, Westpac and Bendigo Bank had approached ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to grant them the right to bargain with Apple collectively last year, ACCC refused.

It said that bargaining with a single entity by forming a cartel will not be in public interest. The banks wanted to bargain with the third party mobile providers on various conditions that are related to efficiency, competition, and best practices adopted.

In their petition given mid of last year, they wanted the access to NFC (Near field communication) controller apart from discussing costs. After getting the ruling against their petition, the banks approached the ACCC again with a slight change in plan. Now they don’t want to discuss the cost factor and are only concerned about getting access to NFC.

NFC is the technology by Apple using which “tap and go” works. It allows making payments on mobiles and helps in the pairing of devices and information exchange. Apple keeps it guarded and does not allow any other application to use it other than Apple Wallet for security reasons.

The banking cartel is arguing that if Apple gives them access then it will be in the interest of Apple users. This is because then they will be able to offer integrated digital wallets giving competition to Apple Pay. They are of the opinion that Apple is not giving access as it wants to avoid competition by forcing the Apple users in Australia to use Apple Pay.

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In its latest submission, the so-formed cartel of the leading banks said, “NFC access is required to enable real choice and real competition for consumers and to facilitate innovation and investment in the digital wallets available to Australians. All customers benefit from real competition.

Rod Sims, the ACCC chairman however maintained that ACCC is not yet satisfied with the arguments given by the cartel. The agency is still weighing if the so-called benefits put forward by the cartel actually outweigh the likely detriments. The agency, however, believes that if the banks are given the opportunity to negotiate collectively with Apple they will be in a better position to bargain, but ACCC is yet to take a decision over the issue.

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