Australia’s Commonwealth Bank mocks Apple’s ‘pro-competition’ claim

Reuters Sydney | Updated on September 23, 2021

Chief executive says Apple is long as one accepts that competition is welcome as long as no one can compete with Apple

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest lender, on Thursday accused Apple of uncompetitive behaviour over the control of payments on its phones, which have grown to about a third of all consumer payments.

The remarks come after the competition regulator told the Australian Financial Review newspaper this month that it was reviewing whether Apple’s iPhone architecture breached competition laws.

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Matt Comyn, chief executive at the Sydney-based bank, urged lawmakers to boost scrutiny of technology giants, saying payments through digital wallets developed by Apple and Alphabet’s Google formed about 45 per cent of all consumer payments.

“The ... claim that Apple is pro-competition, I think, is a fair statement, as long as one accepts that competition is welcome as long as no one can compete with Apple,” Comyn told a regular parliamentary committee.

Apple’s digital wallet

The bank has been calling for Apple to free up the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip on its phones for the use of banks’ own apps, citing its own data that the firm captures 80 per cent of transactions done via telephone digital wallets.

Apple, which requires banks to process all contactless payments through its digital wallet and pay an undisclosed fee, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

“It is analogous to imagine a world today where, on your Apple phone, the only person that could determine which carrier you used is Apple,” Comyn added.

Apple Pay

Last month, the tech giant told a senate inquiry its Apple Pay app was “pro-competitive”, and accused companies urging further scrutiny of its products of doing this “for their own commercial gain”.

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The inquiry findings have not been published.

On Thursday, a representative of the competition regulator said it would not be providing “running commentary” on its investigations.

Unlike Apple, search giant Google allows banks and other third parties to access its NFC chip.

Published on September 23, 2021

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