The Australian government is considering requiring Apple to open up its contactless payment technology to more than just its own Apple Pay service.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services has heard arguments for and against forcing Apple to open up access to its near-field communication (NFC) interface on iPhone to third-party apps, much like how other interfaces like Bluetooth and the camera can be used by any application.
Major stakeholders like Apple, Google and others are all presenting arguments for consideration.
Although Android supports alternatives, Apple cites security issues with the alternative as a reason why it cannot open up the NFC interface to third parties.
“Host Card Emulation (HCE) is a less secure implementation, which was adopted by Android … Apple did not implement HCE because doing so would lead to less security on Apple devices,” Apple responded to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services’ questions.
As you’d expect, Google was quick to refute this claim.
“Our payments apps are immensely secure,” Diana Layfield, Google president of partnerships in the EMEA region, said in a presentation. “[Our] HCE system, which is used by a very large number of banks all around the world, is audited directly by the banks… [We] would refute the suggestion our HCE environment is in any way insecure.”
“I would argue the user experience on Google Pay is equal to that of Apple Pay,” she continued.
In its defence, Apple also noted that Apple Pay “is available to all banks in Australia on fair and non-discriminatory terms.”
“Contrary to some claims in some of the submissions [by rivals], Apple provides banks with access to NFC functionality on Apple devices,” it continued. “Apple has developed a technical architecture that comprises hardware and software components and application programming interfaces (APIs) that banks can use to facilitate contactless payments with their cards and mobile banking applications.”
The Parliamentary Joint Committee hearing comes after the European Union has also considered implementing similar regulations for Apple Pay technology.
The committee will continue to consider arguments from all parties.