A California judge has partially denied Apple’s request to dismiss a proposed class-action lawsuit over Apple Pay. Three credit unions claimed that Apple violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by charging excessive processing fees and being exclusionary by not allowing other digital wallets to access its NFC-scanning hardware. The judge agreed with the credit unions’ argument that Apple Pay’s convenience and functionality make it a unique market, and that Apple would face competition if not for its monopoly over the NFC reader. The judge also acknowledged that Apple Pay’s “arbitrary and inflated fees” and lack of competition are detrimental to consumers.
Lawyers representing the credit unions further alleged that Apple Pay is “unlawfully tied” to Apple devices. While the judge agreed with Apple’s argument that the claim falls flat because Apple Pay is free and users are not forced to use it, he considered the claim of Apple’s monopoly to be “plausible.” The judge noted that the lack of NFC access for third-party apps is anticompetitive. This echoes a preliminary ruling by the EU in 2022, which also deemed Apple Pay to be anticompetitive due to its exclusionary use of the iPhone’s NFC reader.
Apple and the credit unions will face each other in court again on December 1st at 11AM PT to further address the issues raised in the lawsuit.