The European Commission has charged Apple with restricting access to the NFC chip technology that enables iPhone users to make payments.
In 2020, the EC opened an antitrust investigation into Apple Pay which among other things looked into the company's refusal to open up access to its NFC chip to other payment services.
Apple Pay is the only mobile payment service that may access the NFC 'tap and go' technology embedded on iOS mobile devices for payments in stores, a process that has been damned by banks in a number of jurisdictions for preventing competition from their own proprietary apps.
The EC has now sent Apple a 'statement of objections' informing the tech giant of a preliminary view that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices.
EC EVP Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, says "we preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution Apple Pay. If confirmed, such a conduct would be illegal under our competition rules."
Vestager says that Apple's claims that it cannot provide access to NFC for payments for security reasons "cannot be justified".
Apple now has the chance to respond to the statement of objections but could face fines worth billions of euros.
The firm says it will "continue to engage with the commission to ensure European consumers have access to the payment option of their choice in a safe and secure environment".