Apple’s Announcement About “Tap to Pay on iPhone” Is Really About Apple Avoiding Anti-Trust Trouble

Earlier today, Apple announced plans to roll out “Tap to Pay on iPhone” which is their way of opening up contactless payments to partners without having them hop through hoops or have them create hardware of their own to do this. The service will start in the US for now and both Stripe and Shopify have signed on as partners for this.

Now this all sounds good. And in a way it is. But let’s be clear. This announcement isn’t about Apple being nice and open about the use of their payment platform. This is about shutting down anti-trust issues. Specifically in the EU where charges against Apple when it comes to Apple seemingly refusing to open up the NFC chip to third parties. This announcement effectively does the following for Apple:

  1. It allows Apple to use the argument that they are opening up the NFC chip to third parties and use Shopify and Stripe as examples that they can trot out at any time.
  2. By starting in the US, this fits Apple’s traditional playbook as it could be years before this feature appears anywhere else. And Apple could always blame regulators, banks, etc. for that.
  3. Both of the above will leave the EU in a position where their argument isn’t as strong as it was. And the threat of anti-trust action will reduce or disappear.
  4. Apple wins.

So while I am sure that small business in the US will eventually benefit from this, Apple will benefit way more as they won’t have to worry as much or at all about anti-trust issues in the EU.

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