Back in January I briefly discussed an extremely interesting investigation conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into a request made by some of Australia’s leading banks asking for permission to collectively bargain with Apple as regards access to the iPhone’s Near-field Communication (NFC) controller. The request was made over the desire to control bank customers’ digital wallets, which are increasingly part of the one item most people carry every day: mobile devices. The banks’ ultimate goal was to provide their own digital wallets with embedded NFC on iPhones without relying on Apple Pay for mobile payment processing. The rationale was to make sure Apple would not apply any unreasonable terms and conditions to the distribution of the banks’ digital wallets through the App Store — even though for Apple that request boiled down to an attempt to avoid paying fees associated with using Apple Pay.
Last week the ACCC issued its final verdict, a so-called ‘Final Determination’, firmly denying the banks’ request to collectively negotiate with Apple. In that respect, the Final Determination follows an earlier Draft Determination from November last year. You may ask yourself why is this proceeding from ‘Down Under’ worth discussing? Well, while the issue itself is certainly interesting, the far more interesting aspect relates to the reasons for the ACCC’s dismissal of the banks’ request.