Catch up on six of the stories our payments compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.
Apple Looks To Dodge EU Antitrust Fine By Opening NFC Chip To Rivals
Apple is planning to open up its near-field communication (NFC) chips, the technology used to make tap-and-go payments, to rival operators in a bid to avoid an EU antitrust fine.
Reuters reported the news from Brussels earlier this week, based on information provided by three sources who are familiar with the case.
Last year, the European Commission accused Apple of engaging in anti-competitive practices by preventing mobile wallet app developers from accessing the NFC chip on Apple devices.
“It is important for the integration of European Payments markets that consumers benefit from a competitive and innovative payments landscape,” said Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition.
“We preliminarily found that Apple may have restricted competition, to the benefit of its own solution: Apple Pay. If confirmed, such conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.”
Fnality’s Blockchain-Based Sterling Payment System Goes Live
The first live transactions used a digital representation of funds held in an omnibus account within the Bank of England’s real-time gross settlement system, with Lloyds, Santander and UBS as initial participants.
“This milestone goes beyond just demonstrating Fnality's functionality — it evidences the first foundations of a broader multi-jurisdictional vision,” the company said.
“It enables a seamless global liquidity management ecosystem by empowering new digital payment models in both wholesale financial markets and emerging tokenised asset markets.”
Fnality said it will now turn to scaling the new system by onboarding more participant banks, adding new currencies (USD, EUR) and adding new services, such as conditional payments.
ECB Issues Wholesale CBDC Expression Of Interest
The European Central Bank has invited financial market stakeholders to express their formal interest in taking part in the planned exploration of new technologies for wholesale central bank money settlement.
Stakeholders interested in participating in the trials and/or experiments between May 2024 and November 2024 have been told to respond by January 31, 2024.
Meanwhile, those wishing to join trials and/or experiments between July 2024 and November 2024 have been advised to respond by April 30, 2024.
The Eurosystem first announced planned work to explore potential solutions for central bank money settlement of wholesale financial transactions, recorded on distributed ledger technology platforms, in April 2023.
Google Taps BNPL For US Merchants
Google Pay will add the buy now, pay later (BNPL) providers Affirm and Zip as payment options for some merchants next year in the US.
“We are always looking for ways to give people a more helpful checkout experience when shopping on Google,” said Drew Olson, senior director, Google Pay. “By teaming up with BNPL providers like Zip, we are able to give Google Pay users another payment option when checking out, while providing merchants with another tool to drive their growth.”
This will allow Google Pay users with Android phones to select Affirm or Zip as a payment option when online shopping with some merchants.
If the user chooses the BNPL option, they will be given the chance to learn more about the terms and conditions and then go through a few steps to complete the purchase.
Once approved, customers will be able to spread out their payments for purchases over $35.
JCB To Enter Phase Two Of CBDC Pilot
Japanese international payment brand JCB has launched the JCB Digital Currency (JCBDC) Phase 2 pilot project with IDEMIA, a global leader in identity technologies, and fintech company Soft Space.
In the first phase of the JCBDC project, JCB, IDEMIA and Soft Space developed a CBDC payment solution, enabling merchants to accept CBDC without the need to modify their point-of-sale terminals and payment cards.
This solution was successfully piloted in Tokyo in 2023, which has enabled JCB, IDEMIA and Soft Space to proceed to the next phase of the project.
In Phase 2 of the JCBDC project, customers will be able to transfer CBDC funds from one person to another person using their cards and mobile phones — even without internet connectivity.
These offline peer-to-peer fund transfers can either be done from one card to another with a mobile near-field-communication (NFC) device as an intermediary, or from one mobile NFC device to another mobile NFC device directly.
Epic's Surprise Victory In Google Antitrust Case A 'Win for All Developers'
In a surprise victory for Epic Games, a federal jury in San Francisco has found that Google operated illegal monopolies across its Google Play store and in-app billing systems.
The jury took four hours to come to the verdict, and US District Court Judge James Donato must now decide how Google’s practices have to change to comply with the law.
“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic Games said in a statement.
“It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation.”
Since its inception, Epic Games argued, Google had managed to impose a 30 percent “tax” on app developers simply by preventing viable competitors from offering alternatives.
Epic Games added that the case demonstrates the “urgent need” for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including in the UK and EU.
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