Australian Banks ask permission to form anti-Apple cartel

iPhones' NFC chips sought for own transaction tech, rather than ApplePay alone

You can't make it up: the last industry in Australia to enjoy the privileged status of “protected and guaranteed by government”, the banks, want the country's competition regulator to rubber-stamp it acting as a cartel against Apple.

Apple won't let Australia's banks use iPhones for contactless payments without using Apple Pay, so three of the country's “big four” – probably have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for help.

The core of the demand is that Apple let them write apps using the NFC chip in iPhones. They also want Apple to cut them in on interchange fees charged to Apple Pay users.

Under normal circumstances, if they formed a cartel-against-Cupertino, the banks would take a battering from the competition regulator, so they've asked permission to negotiate as a group.

The application has been made by the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Westpac, with minnow Bendigo and Adelaide Bank tagging along.

Apple only lets its Apple Pay access i-Things' antennae, so the banks' own apps can't be used at the retail counter.

As well as negotiating as a bloc, the banks want permission to conduct a “limited boycott” of Apple's payment system while negotiations continue.

The banks also want to negotiate about security and fraud protection, their 121-page filing with the ACCC states.

“Given the above context and the experience in other countries in which Apple Pay has launched, collective negotiation will be required in Australia to overcome the disadvantages the applicants will face in individual negotiations”, the filing notes. ®

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