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ACCC rejects banks' Apple bargaining bid

AAP logoAAP 28/11/2016

Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank look to have failed to secure permission to collectively bargain with Apple to allow iPhone users to make mobile payments from their' own digital wallets, rather than Apple Pay.

ANZ is the only major Australian bank to sign up with the California-based tech giant which restricts contactless payments on Apple devices to its own Apple Pay platform.

The other three major banks - CBA, Westpac and NAB - along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank want the competition watchdog's authorisation to bargain together with Apple, but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Tuesday said it expects to deny their request.

The banks also want Apple to remove restrictions stopping them passing on Apple's fees.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims says allowing the banks to bargain collectively could reduce or distort competition in a number of markets.

"Apple Wallet and other non-bank digital wallets could represent a disruptive technology that may increase competition between the banks by making it easier for consumers to switch between card providers and limiting any 'lock in' effect bank digital wallets may cause," Mr Sims said in a statement.

"Authorisation would allow the banks to agree to not sign up to Apple Pay for three years," Mr Sims said in the ACCC's draft determination, which will now be subject to further public consultation ahead of a final decision in March.

The ACCC also frowned upon any boycott of Apple by CBA, NAB, Westpac and Bendigo.

"This is a significant period of uncertainty and would result in decreased choice for consumers whose banks engage in this conduct."

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