A US judge has told Apple it must face an antitrust class-action lawsuit from card issuers accusing the firm of preventing competition to its Apple Pay wallet.
US District Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the plaintiffs could try to prove that Apple violated the federal Sherman antitrust law, according to Reuters.
The complaint, filed last year, accuses Apple of denying rivals access to the NFC chip technology in iPhones needed to develop a competing mobile wallet. This means that only Apple Pay can make contactless payments at the point of sale, meaning the company "coerces" customers.
Having secured a monopoly, Apple charges card issuers who use Apple Pay supracompetitive fees for a service that is available on Android devices for free, according to the lawsuit.
The policy sees Apple extracting up to $1 billion annually from more than 4000 banks and credit unions in fees in violation of federal antitrust law, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman and Sperling & Slater, on behalf of plaintiff, Iowa’s Affinity Credit Union.
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.
Apple did succeed in getting a a "tying" claim dismissed which accused it of requiring purchasers of iOS devices to buy Apple Pay or forego purchases of competing wallets.
In 2022, the European Commission charged Apple with restricting access to the NFC chip technology in a move that could ultimately cost the firm billions of euros in fines.
Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also fired a shot across Apple's bows over the tech giant's policy of restricting access to the NFC chip technology.