Apple has accused Australian banks of using "innuendo and misstatements" to support their attempts to overcome restrictions imposed by the consumer electronics firm on the use of iPhones for mobile payments.
Apple Pay was launched in Australia in November 2015 through a limited partnership with American Express but was met with resistance from local banks because they are prevented from accessing Apple's near field communication (NFC) technology, which enables tap and go payments.
Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Bendingo, have applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for permission to negotiate collectively with Apple over NFC access and to challenge what they see as anti-competitive behaviour.
The banks would like to offer their own digital wallet services via Apple's iPhones but instead have to either work around the restriction, by placing a tap-and-go sticker on the back of the phones, or else sign up to Apple Pay and share any revenue with the technology giant.
In its submission to the ACCC, Apple accuses the banks of acting as a cartel to undermine competition in the local payments market.
"The request by the applicant banks would slow innovation and reduce choice by protecting members of the cartel from competition with each other," states the letter.
Apple further claims that opening up its proprietary hardware and software to banks would constitute a security risk: "Providing simple access to the NFC antenna by banking applications would fundamentally diminish the high level of security Apple aims to have on our devices.”
Apple notes that the banks account for a 66% market share in credit cards, adding: "Given their scale and market share, the applicants are essential to Apple's ability to offer Apple Pay on a meaningful basis within Australia."