The war of words between Apple and some of Australia's biggest banks is growing increasingly heated as the financial collective accuses the consumer electronics group of acting against the interests of customers in the ongoing row over collective bargaining rights for NFC access to iPhones.
The banks - Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank - are seeking permission from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to engage in collective negotiation and boycott activities with Apple in relation to the Apple Pay platform and with other third party wallet providers.
By working together, the banks hope to exert pressure on Apple and win access to the iPhone NFC antenna for their own contactless payments apps, as they already have with Android devices.
Apple in return has accused the banks of exhibiting cartel-like behaviour, stifling competition and creating undue security risks.
In a joint statement refuting Apple's claims, the applicant banks say: "Apple’s submission to the ACCC makes it clear that Apple does not want to give iPhone users the ability to choose an integrated third party wallet of their own preference. Unlike users of Samsung and Android, Apple is blocking access to the NFC function and wants to leave iPhone users with no choice but to use Apple Pay.
"Apple’s submission clearly states that Apple has no intention of addressing these issues in individual negotiations with any Australian bank."
The banks have already won the backing of Australian merchants in the debate, with both Coles and the Australian Retailers Association writing supportive submissions to the competition watchdog.
Only ANZ has broken ranks, this week commencing the rollout of Apple Pay to more than 500,000 customers with a Mastercard credit card, following an earlier release to its five million debit card holders in April.
Having denied the refusenik banks interim authorisation, the ACCC is now not expected to make a formal decision on the matter until October.