EU Hearing ‘Many Concerns’ About Potential Anticompetitive Issues With Apple Pay

European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager today acknowledged that her department has received "many concerns" over Apple Pay and potential anticompetitive issues, noting that "people see it becomes increasingly difficult to compete in the market for easy payments," reports Reuters.


Vestager's comments come after the European Commission sent a questionnaire to a number of companies in August seeking information on whether Apple was restricting online payment options.
The questionnaire asked if companies were under a contractual obligation to enable a certain payment method and also if such contracts included conditions for integrating ‌Apple Pay‌ in their apps and websites.

Regulators wanted to know if Apple has rejected merchant apps as incompatible with the terms and conditions for integrating ‌Apple Pay‌ in their apps.
Apple touts the safety and security of ‌Apple Pay‌, but critics have claimed that Apple stifles competition by locking down the NFC chip in iOS devices to only work with ‌Apple Pay‌, making it difficult for other payment services to compete.

Antitrust concerns over ‌Apple Pay‌ are not the only issue for Apple and the EU at the moment, as the European Commission is also still dealing with Spotify's complaint that Apple's App Store unfairly disadvantages third-party app developers in favor of its own apps and services.

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Apple Pay Overtakes Starbucks as Most Popular Mobile Payment Platform in the US

Apple Pay has overtaken the Starbucks mobile app to become the most popular mobile payment system in the United States, claims a new report out today.


According to eMarketer, ‌Apple Pay‌ became the market leader last year, when 27.7 million Americans used the app to make a purchase. Since then, however, ‌Apple Pay‌ has grown even faster than expected.

In 2019, ‌Apple Pay‌ will have 30.3 million users, or 47.3 percent of mobile payment users. That compares with Starbucks' 25.2 million customers via its mobile app in the same year, representing 39.4 percent of mobile payment users.
"‌Apple Pay‌ has benefited from the spread of new point-of-sale (POS) systems that work with the NFC signals ‌Apple Pay‌ runs on," said eMarketer principal analyst Yory Wurmser. "The same trend should also help Google Pay and Samsung Pay, but they will continue to split the Android market."
Citing data from Digital Trends, the analysis predicts ‌Apple Pay‌ will be available in 70 percent of U.S. retailers by the end of 2019. In contrast, the Starbucks app has commanded a 40 percent market share of mobile payments for the last few years, but growth potential is limited because it can only be used in Starbucks stores.

Total spending via contactless mobile payments will approach $100 billion this year in the U.S., according to eMarketer. On average, that is equivalent to a user spending $1,545 per year, up more than 24 percent over last year.

Nearly 64 million people (30 percent of all U.S. smartphone users) are expected to make use of mobile payments this year, a 9.1 percent increase over 2018. In terms of demographics, nearly 50 percent of all smartphone users are adults aged 25 to 34, so the growth of mobile payments is expected to be strongest in this age group, although digital wallet use is said to be growing across the board.

"Although a growing number of millennials feel secure using payment apps, virtually all still find credit and debit cards equally convenient," said eMarketer forecasting analyst Vincent Yip. That bodes well for Apple Card, which launched earlier this year. ‌Apple Pay‌ is now in 47 markets and in the June quarter, started adding more new users than PayPal, with monthly transaction volume growing four times as fast.


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Apple Pay Expands to Additional Banks in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands

Apple Pay has expanded to more banks in Europe today, including ING in Germany, bunq in Austria, and ABN AMRO in the Netherlands.


ING supporting ‌Apple Pay‌ in Germany is notable after a lengthy waiting period following the original announcement. ‌Apple Pay‌ made its debut in Germany in December, allowing iPhone and Apple Watch users in the country to take advantage of the contactless mobile payments service if their card issuer supports it.

Meanwhile, the Federation of German Cooperative banks (BVR) are said to be preparing for ‌Apple Pay‌ support, as are the Sparkassen and Giroverbandes (DSGV) association of savings banks. Both the BVR and the savings banks could start offering support later this year.

Also today, European challenger bank bunq brought ‌Apple Pay‌ to its customers in Austria. "Austrian users can now enable both Maestro and Mastercard cards for ‌Apple Pay‌, so they get the best of both worlds. This gives them the freedom to pay with their iPhone or ‌Apple Watch‌, whenever they want, wherever they go," said bunq founder and CEO Ali Niknam.


Last but not least, ABN AMRO, one of the largest banks in the Netherlands, announced ‌Apple Pay‌ support in early September and now the bank's customers can finally start using Apple's payment service. Rabobank is expected to offer support in the country soon.

‌Apple Pay‌ has been gradually expanding across Europe and the Middle East, launching in Poland, Norway, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Iceland over the last year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in March that ‌Apple Pay‌ would be available in more than 40 countries and regions by the end of 2019. ‌Apple Pay‌ first launched in the United States in October 2014. You can view the full list of ‌Apple Pay‌ countries and regions on Apple's website.

(Thanks, Geert!)


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Apple Pay is Coming Soon to Swedbank, One of Sweden’s Largest Banks

Swedbank, one of the largest banks in Sweden, has announced that it will soon support Apple Pay. No specific date was provided.


When available, users will be able to add their Swedbank credit cards to the Wallet app by tapping the plus button in the top-right corner. Apple Pay can be used anywhere contactless payments are accepted with a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch, and it is also accepted by select apps and websites.

Apple Pay launched in Sweden in October 2017, and once Swedbank rolls out support, up to 4.1 million more customers will gain access to the service in the country. Apple Pay will be available in more than 40 countries and territories by the end of 2019, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

(Thanks, Poy!)

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Southwest Airlines Mobile App Gains Apple Pay Support

Southwest Airlines has added Apple Pay support to its mobile app, enabling customers to pay for tickets, in-flight meals, baggage options, and other ancillary services using Apple's mobile wallet.


As an alternative payment method to debit and credit cards, Apple Pay offers more security by allowing customers to make transactions without storing their payment details in another commercial database.

In a press release announcing the support, Southwest said the airline's new Apple Pay integration would enable users to "purchase tickets from the carrier's app – with Apple Card if they so choose – and store it in the Wallet for redemption at the gate."
"Providing modern digital payment solutions to our Customers is critical," said Christopher Priebe, Director, Treasury, Payments and Risk at Southwest Airlines. "The launch of Apple Pay enhances our ability to sell flights, as well as ancillary products using one of the most widely-used digital wallets in North America."
The Apple Pay integration is the result of a partnership agreement with Southwest Airlines and digital commerce provider, CellPoint Digital, with help from airline-owned payment network UATP.

The partnership allows airlines to deploy new payment methods quickly using, including major global wallets like Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, WeChat Pay, Alipay, Google Pay or Pay Tm, along with bank transfer, installments and cash-based payment options.


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Apple is ‘Watching Cryptocurrency’ and Wants to Do More With Tipping and Mobile IDs

Apple Pay vice president Jennifer Bailey recently sat down with CNN anchor Christine Romans at a private event in San Francisco to discuss the future of payments, including Apple Pay and the Apple Card.

Apple Pay vice president Jennifer Bailey via CNN Business

As to be expected, Bailey made some boilerplate comments about the security, privacy, and ease of use of both Apple Pay and the Apple Card, but she also touched on cryptocurrency, tipping, and mobile IDs.

On cryptocurrency, Bailey said it is an "interesting" field with "long-term potential":
We're watching cryptocurrency. We think it's interesting. We think it has interesting long-term potential, but we're primarily focused on what consumers are using today… and are happy with. Most people are pretty happy with their debit card as an example. And so helping people do that in a more secure way on our platform and in a more real time way is what we're focused on.
On tipping, Bailey said it is one area where Apple still needs to "work more on that":
We get that feedback a lot from customers about when they start using mobile payments and Apple Pay, they stop carrying cash. And one of the key areas where they would like us to do more is actually in tipping. You'll see in some of the point-of-sale systems now great tipping functionality if you pay with mobile payments, but still that personal touch is one area where we still need to work more on that.
Apple Pay and the Wallet app have already provided digital alternatives to credit and debit cards, student IDs, movie tickets, boarding passes, and more. Asked what the hardest remaining item in a wallet would be to digitize, Bailey said identities, such as a driver's license or a passport:
I think the hardest thing is identity. And the reason is that identity, to be legal, has to be government issued… it has to be authenticated by the government. We see across the globe many countries starting to use mobile to add passport… you might use mobile passport when you're going through airports today. It is moving, and I think it will continue. It's not too far away… it just won't be as fast as some of the other activities we have.
Bailey also confirmed that Apple is "working on" allowing users to export their Apple Card financial data to a budgeting app like Mint.

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More Banks Announce Apple Pay Support in the Netherlands

Apple Pay officially launched in the Netherlands in June, but Dutch bank ING was the sole card issuer offering support Apple's digital payment system to the country.


Today, more banks in the Netherlands announced support for Apple Pay. Dutch challenger bank Bunq now shows up in Apple's Wallet when users in the country choose to add a card, as does Monese, N26, and Revolut.

With Apple Pay on iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac, customers with these banks in The Netherlands can make purchases with their digital wallet in stores, in apps and on websites.


According to Apple's regional Apple Pay web page, Apple Pay can be used in The Netherlands with several online and high street retailers including Adidas, ALDI, Amac, ARKET, BCC, Burger King, Capi, cool blue, COS, Decathlon, Douglas, H&M, Jumbo, Lidl, McDonalds, Starbucks, and others.

Dutch bank ABN AMRO and Rabobank have also informed their customers that they are working to bring Apple Pay to their bank cards and expects this to roll out soon.

(Thanks, Adriaan!)


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Apple Pay Now Available to Danske Bank Customers

Danske Bank, the largest bank in Denmark, today announced it now offers Apple Pay.

Apple Pay is now available to all Danske Bank personal and business customers in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway, with support for both Visa and Mastercard cards. To set up a card with Apple Pay, open the Wallet app on a compatible iPhone and tap the plus button in the top-right corner.


Once activated, Danske Bank cardholders can use their iPhone or Apple Watch to make purchases at stores that accept contactless payments, as well as on websites and in apps that accept Apple Pay.

Apple Pay launched in Denmark in October 2017, and with Danske Bank now on board, an additional 2.7 million customers now have access to the service in the Nordic region. Apple Pay will be available in more than 40 countries and territories by the end of 2019, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

(Thanks, Christian Schweizer and Poy!)

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Macau Bank BNU Announces Apple Pay Support

Apple Pay has officially arrived in Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China. Local bank Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU) and UnionPay International Hong Kong Branch (UPI) on Monday jointly announced support for Apple's mobile payment platform in the territory.

"BNU cardholders will be able to easily add their UnionPay debit and credit cards to Apple Pay on iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad and Mac for convenient and secure everyday shopping," the bank told Macau News Agency.
The service will allow its clients with Apple devices to make mobile payments in Macau's Greater Bay Area and worldwide, in stores, restaurants, taxis, vending machines and that security and privacy will be of great concern for the service.


Apple CEO Tim Cook said in March that Apple Pay would be available in more than 40 countries and regions by the end of 2019, although Apple's website has yet to be updated with the full list.

Apple Pay first launched in the United States in October 2014. You can view the full list of Apple Pay countries and regions on Apple’s website.

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Tag: Macau

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Apple Pay Users Can Get Free McDonald’s Fries With Purchase Today

Apple and McDonald's have teamed up to offer free fries every Friday in July.


Today, and on July 19 and July 26, customers can use Apple Pay in the McDonald's app and get free medium fries with a minimum $1 purchase before taxes, excluding any dollar menu items. The promotion is limited to the United States.

This is just one of many Apple Pay promotions that have been offered in recent months.

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