(In final par, ANZ is Australia's third-largest bank by market
value, not fourth)
SYDNEY Nov 29 Three of Australia's four biggest
banks will be barred from collectively bargaining with Apple Inc
in relation to its mobile digital payments system,
under a draft decision released by the antitrust regulator on
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said
letting banks collectively offer their own integrated digital
wallets in Apple iPhones, in competition with Apple's Apple Pay
system, would reduce each bank's ability to negotiate with the
"While the ACCC accepts that the opportunity for the banks
to collectively negotiate and boycott would place them in a
better bargaining position with Apple, the benefits are
currently uncertain and may be limited," commission chairman Rod
Sims said in a statement.
The decision is a setback for the banks' hopes to bypass
Apple's in-house payments system and roll out their own versions
free of competition from the Silicon Valley giant, which has the
biggest smartphone market share in Australia.
It also sets a precedent which may solidify Apple's
dominance of the digital wallet system globally, since the
Australian banks had mounted the first challenge to it.
Apple Pay allows users to register credit cards on devices
such as iPhones, and pay for goods and services by swiping the
devices over contactless payment terminals. Apple charges card
providers for transactions via the service, which it introduced
to Australia last year.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking
Corp, National Australia Bank Ltd and smaller
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd, which jointly have
two-thirds of the Australian credit card market, argued that
letting Apple restrict use of mobile wallets was
Apple argued that it had not granted access to its digital
wallet technology to third-parties anywhere in the world because
it would undermine customers' privacy and data security.
A representative for the banks behind the application was
not immediately available for comment.
The ACCC said it would consult further and give a final
decision in March 2017.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd,
Australia's third biggest bank by market capitalisation, has its
own digital wallet agreement with Apple.
(Reporting by Jamie Freed and Byron Kaye; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Stephen Coates)