A federal class action lawsuit against Apple Pay has been partially denied by California Northern District Judge Jeffrey White, according to a report by Reuters. The lawsuit, filed by three credit unions, alleges 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, stating that Apple Pay’s convenience and functionality make it a market unto itself, and the lack of competition in the iOS digital payments market is harmful to consumers. Although Apple’s argument that the claim fell flat because Apple Pay is free and not mandatory was upheld, the judge deemed the claim of Apple having a monopoly as “plausible.”
Judge White also highlighted that Apple charges arbitrary and inflated fees for payment processing and noted the anticompetitive nature of denying NFC access to third-party apps. This echoes a preliminary ruling by the EU in 2022, which declared Apple Pay as anticompetitive due to its exclusionary use of the iPhone’s NFC reader. The case will continue, with Apple and the credit unions scheduled to meet in court on December 1st at 11 AM PT.