EU investigating Apple's App Store, Apple Pay

EU investigating Apple's App Store, Apple Pay
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The European Commission said Tuesday that it is launching two investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay regarding whether the company is violating the European Union’s (EU) competition rules.

The commission said it is concerned that the mandatory use of Apple’s own proprietary in-app system restricts app developers from informing iPad and iPhone users of cheaper purchasing options. 

Similarly, it said it is concerned over allegations that Apple refuses access to Apple Pay in some cases as well as over Apple limiting access to “tap and go” payments on iPhones.

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“Mobile payment solutions are rapidly gaining acceptance among users of mobile devices, facilitating payments both online and in physical stores. This growth is accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, with increasing online payments and contactless payments in stores,” EU Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement

“I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple's practices regarding Apple Pay and their impact on competition,” she added. 

The investigation into the App Store follows two separate complaints against Apple from an e-book and audiobook distributor and a music streaming provider. 

Spotify, a competing music streaming service to Apple Music, filed a complaint in March 2019 about Apple’s App Store guidelines and their impact on competition for music streaming services. 

An e-book and audiobook distributor, a competitor of the Apple Books app, filed a separate complaint raising similar concerns but regarding the distribution of e-books and audiobooks this March. 

"We need to ensure that Apple's rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books,” Vestager said in a statement. “I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple's App Store rules and their compliance with EU competition rules.”  

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Apple defended itself in response to the investigation, saying  the company follows the law in “everything we do” and criticizing the EU for “advancing baseless complaints” from competing companies. 

“It's disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don't want to play by the same rules as everyone else. We don’t think that’s right — we want to maintain a level playing field where anyone with determination and a great idea can succeed,” Apple said in a statement. 

“At the end of the day, our goal is simple: for our customers to have access to the best app or service of their choice, in a safe and secure environment. We welcome the opportunity to show the European Commission all we’ve done to make that goal a reality,” the statement continued.