Apple Wins Major Battle in Ongoing War with Banks Down Under

© Can Stock Photo / Mark2121This summer, a group of banks in Australia did the unthinkable — they took on Apple, the on-again, off-again largest company in the world.

Today it was announced the banks appear to have lost that fight, as expected. They cannot collectively bargain with Apple, as they had requested.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said on Tuesday in a draft ruling it was “not satisfied” that the likely benefits from allowing the banks to negotiate with Apple as a bloc outweighed the negatives. Allowing collective negotiations “could reduce competition between the banks in the supply of mobile payment services for iPhones,” the regulator said.

This draft ruling weakens the banks’s negotiating power and makes more likely their capitulation to the Cupertino megacorporation.

The battle was over control of the iPhone’s NFC transmitter, which Apple reserves for the exclusive use of Apple Pay. The banks — Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac Banking Corp., three of Australia’s Big Four — demanded access, presumably to launch their own mobile payments operations, something they had failed to do before Apple Pay came ashore. ANZ — Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp. — had already made a separate piece with Apple and its name appears in the list of banks accepting Apple Pay.

Brian Roemmele, CEO of the mobile payments locator app PayFinders, told Bank Innovation in August, “There will be a form of open NFC from Apple at some point. However there will be blocks so as not to breach the concept of private transactions. Apple will not accept any company that will trace and sell consumer transaction data processed via the NFC channel, as it would conflict with the premise of full privacy of Apple Pay (even though it is not Apple Pay), the consumer assumes this channel affords.”

A spokesman for the banks expressed disappointment with the draft ruling, and called the move a blow to consumer choice for iPhone owners wishing to use mobile payments.

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