Germany Passes Law Forcing Apple to Open Up iPhone's NFC Chip to Apple Pay Rivals, But Loophole May Exist

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Apr 12, 2001
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A parliamentary committee in Germany on Wednesday passed an amendment to an anti-money laundering law that would force Apple to open up the NFC chip in iPhones to competing mobile payment providers, according to Reuters. The report claims the law is set to come into effect early next year.


In a statement to Reuters, Apple said it was "surprised" about the sudden decision and expressed security concerns.

"We are surprised at how suddenly this legislation was introduced," an Apple spokesperson said. "We fear that the draft law could be harmful to user friendliness, data protection and the security of financial information."

As noted by German financial website Finanz-Szene, however, there appears to be a provision in the law that could allow Apple to keep the NFC chip locked down. Specifically, it appears that Apple might be able to argue that opening up the NFC chip would put the security of its customers at risk.

A rough translation of the passage:
Exceptionally, the system undertaking is not required to comply with paragraph 1 if there are reasonable grounds for refusal to make the provision available. These exist, in particular, if the system undertaking can demonstrate that the safety and integrity of the technical infrastructure services is specifically jeopardized by the provision of such facilities. The rejection must be reasonably justified.
Earlier this month, the European Union's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager acknowledged that her department has received "many concerns" over Apple Pay and potential anticompetitive issues. Australia's big banks have also sought open access to the NFC chip on the iPhone in recent years.

Article Link: Germany Passes Law Forcing Apple to Open Up iPhone's NFC Chip to Apple Pay Rivals, But Loophole May Exist
 

turbineseaplane

macrumors 603
Mar 19, 2008
5,620
8,267
I have no idea if this is a good idea or not in particular but it’s asinine that we can’t get all of these tap to pay providers working on all tap to pay devices.

The future is not “everybody having their own locked down solution”
 

NightFox

macrumors 68020
May 10, 2005
2,168
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Shropshire, UK
If the German parliament is concerned about this for reasons of competition, they shouldn't be (mis)using anti-money laundering legislation to address it. If no appropriate laws exist within current legislation, then what Apple are doing isn't illegal and the government shouldn't abuse legislation to try and make it so, but should move to introduce fitting legislation through the correct process otherwise it just looks like a vendetta.
 

npmacuser5

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2015
1,219
1,261
The current situation complicates the customer interaction with the merchant. I personally see more then a few failed credit card transaction, including my own, at checkout. The IT costs are significant along with less transactions in high volume stores. End result, fix it or we will pay the costs via higher prices.
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,404
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Vancouver, BC
Since the security is all software, that would make it difficult to argue that it would put security at risk...
Not true at all. The hardware can also be compromised. Look at Intel.

I think Apple should comply. Let consumers decide which payment solution they prefer. Just have a very strict API that must be implemented by developers to access NFC.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,653
6,773
Florida, USA
This is just going to lead to a mess of having to install 57 different apps to be able to pay at all the stores using NFC.

Why the fork can't these companies just get on board with Apple Pay? It's based on an open standard (Contactless payments) and is plenty secure. It's frustrating to need to install a bunch of different apps to pay for things.
 

swm

macrumors regular
May 29, 2013
220
262
Dear Bundestag, i demand to be able to use my debit card from HypoVereinsBank to withdraw money from my citibank account.
also, how anticompetitive is that i can withdraw money from an ATM of a different bank only if i pay 5-10EUR extra fee?
no one wants to regulate that?
 

Khedron

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2013
2,132
4,141
This is a good way to for the German government to stall technological progress in cashless payments in their country. Apple will not open up a secure payment method for other rivals to somehow use their platform to profit from it. That is beyond unreasonable.
What are you talking about?

So next Apple should block bluetooth connections for anything other than AirPods and Apple Watches to prevent "rivals somehow being able to profit"?

It's a NFC chip the customer paid for, not "their [Apple's] platform"

Up next: Dropbox banned from using internet provided by Apple's WiFi/cellular chips because of security concerns and you can pay for iCloud anyway
 

NoNothing

macrumors 6502
Aug 9, 2003
444
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Seems good to me. The user should be able to choose which payment provider he wants to use and gets started by default.

I'll likely stay with Apple Pay though.
And you don’t have a choice in not using iOS? Apple has less than 20% market share in Germany and if this is a true reason people aren’t using Apple products, that share will fall dramatically.
You do have choice in not buying into Apple’s minority share system.
 

Alan Wynn

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2017
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Freedom of choice is great, even if Apple Pay is the best choice right now. It creates competition and drives innovation.
There is freedom of choice. People who do not like ApplePay can buy other devices. If they provide a better customer experience, and Apple lost business over it, they would be forced to change. In Germany, Apple's iPhone as under 25% of the market. That seems like people have a pretty easy option (which over 75% of users have exercised).
 

NightFox

macrumors 68020
May 10, 2005
2,168
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Shropshire, UK
This is a good way to for the German government to stall technological progress in cashless payments in their country. Apple will not open up a secure payment method for other rivals to somehow use their platform to profit from it. That is beyond unreasonable.
Germany has historically been more reluctant than other Western European countries to move to a cashless society, especially when it comes to credit cards.
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,836
3,774
San Jose, CA
This is a good thing. Android shows that it can be implemented securely, and customers will probably get faster access to local payment providers and perhaps others such as transit cards (unbelievable that we still can't add Clipper cards to Apple Wallet even though we're in Apple's backyard).

According to the Finanz-Szene article there was apparently a lot of lobbying by German banks on one hand, and Apple on the other. Reportedly even the US ambassador to Germany got involved. Given that the EU received a lot of complaints about this, I wouldn't be surprised if there was EU-wide legislation at some point.
 

swm

macrumors regular
May 29, 2013
220
262
So next Apple should block bluetooth connections for anything
prior to BLE that was the case. your bluetooth device had to be MFI certified to get access to the phone.
for standard bluetooth profiles there was no such restriction though.

yet sending media files through bluetooth - the thing from the early 2000s - is still not possible and we survived somehow.