Way back in January, Apple announced policy changes that would allow Apple Pay rivals to get the same access to the NFC contactless chip inside the iPhone. This includes allowing banking and alternative wallets apps to present themselves when the phone is held near a NFC terminal, or when the user double-clicks the side button.

Following some amendments, the EU has finally announced today that it is satisfied with these concessions, and is closing a four-year investigation into Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices regarding Apple Pay.

At least in theory, the new API access to enable other apps to become the default wallet app on the device will mean the system Apple Pay option will have to compete on merits. Other banks and payment companies could now release alternative wallet apps in the EU, and fight for marketshare without being at a feature disadvantage.

As part of the additional commitments, Apple has agreed to remove the requirement for developers to have a license as a Payment Server Provider, in order to be granted the HCE Payments Entitlement. It will also commit to evolving HCE support as industry standards evolve, even in directions that Apple Pay itself may not necessarily implement.

Access to the entitlement remains limited to developers operating in the European Economic Area. It seems likely that governments in other regions will pressure Apple to offer the same capabilities in other countries, over time.

This is just one of many competition investigations undertaken by the EU against Apple in recent years. The music streaming case was concluded earlier this year, with Apple being slapped with a $2bn fine. Apple is appealing that decision.

The fight regarding the opening up of iOS to third-party app distribution also continues, under the umbrella of the Digital Markets Act. In June, the EU said Apple’s anti-steering rules were in breach of the DMA and it is also investigating other parts of the alternative business terms like the Core Technology Fee, and the complexity of the multi-step user flow required to install a third party App store on the phone. At the time, Apple said it is confident that its plan complies with the law.

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