Australia's Commonwealth Bank mocks Apple's 'pro-competition' claim

© Reuters/DAVID GRAY FILE PHOTO: A customer holds the iPhone X during the global launch of the new Apple product in central Sydney

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest lender, accused Apple Inc on Thursday of uncompetitive behaviour over control of payments on its phones, which have grown to about a third of all consumer payments.

The remarks come after the competition regulator told the Australian Financial Review newspaper this month that it was reviewing whether Apple’s iPhone architecture breached competition laws.

Matt Comyn, chief executive at the Sydney-based bank, urged lawmakers to boost scrutiny of technology giants, saying payments through digital wallets developed by Apple and Alphabet’s Google formed about 45% of all consumer payments.

“The … claim that Apple is pro-competition, I think, is a fair statement, as long as one accepts that competition is welcome as long as no one can compete with Apple,” Comyn told a regular parliamentary committee.

The bank has been calling for Apple to free up the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip on its phones for the use of banks’ own apps, citing its own data that the firm captures 80% of transactions done via telephone digital wallets.

Apple, which requires banks to process all contactless payments through its digital wallet and pay an undisclosed fee, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

“It is analogous to imagine a world today where, on your Apple phone, the only person that could determine which carrier you used is Apple,” Comyn added.

Last month the tech giant told a senate inquiry its Apple Pay app was “pro-competitive”, and accused companies urging further scrutiny of its products of doing this “for their own commercial gain”.

The inquiry findings have not been published.

On Thursday, a representative of the competition regulator said it would not be providing “running commentary” on its investigations.

Unlike Apple, search giant Google allows banks and other third parties to access its NFC chip.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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