Apple Pay accused of unfair competition in Denmark

Payment method is booming, but the consumer council thinks it is breaking the law

Since Apple Pay has made its way to Denmark, thousands of Danes have signed up for the payment solution, which makes it easy and convenient to swipe an iPhone in stores to pay for goods and services.

But the Forbrugerrådet Tænk consumer council is not sure that Apple Pay is operating in compliance with Danish law, and it has asked the Concurrence og Forbrugerstyrelsen competition and consumer agency to investigate.

“We have reported Apple Pay because we believe this new payment app is in violation of our competition law and the EU rules governing this area,” Forbrugerrådet Tænk chairperson Anja Philip told DR Nyheder.

Them dang foreigners
Philip’s group is particularly concerned that Apple Pay is linked to the more expensive Visa section of a Visa Dankort, which since it is viewed as a ‘foreign credit card’ results in fees 10 times higher than those of a normal Dankort purchase.

“Customers are locked into the Visa part of the Visa Dankort,” she said. “This results in higher charges. It is more expensive for the shops and may result in higher prices for consumers.”

Apple lemmings
Currently, Jyske Bank and Nordea have adopted Apple Pay and customers at both have rushed to add the new payment system. Nordea said that “thousands” have signed up while Jyske Bank said that nearly 30,000 of its customers are now enrolled. 

“Apple Pay is incredibly easy,” said Peter Schleidt from Jyske Bank. “It takes a minute to sign up and a minute before you can use it. It’s as easy as a contactless card and it is safer than an ordinary card.”

Follow the money
Schleidt acknowledged that the fees are higher on a Visa Dankort, but insists that the bank is not reaping any benefits.

He said that businesses need to negotiate better deals with “intermediaries” that are profiting from the fees.

Philip disagreed with Schleidt’s assessment.

“The banks that have signed an agreement with Apple Pay will get more out of it because customers are forced to pay the Visa payment,” she said.

“We are forced to use a foreign credit card, which is more expensive for the stores and therefore ultimately more expensive for consumers.”

Chip chipping in?
Forbrugerrådet Tænk is also examining whether Apple is using its dominant market position to exclude other forms of payment.

Currently, every second mobile phone being used in Denmark is an iPhone.

An iPhone is equipped with an NFC chip, which corresponds to the chip installed in a contactless Dankort.

READ MORE: Business news in brief: Apple gives up legal battle with Danish customer

Philip said that the chip gives preference to Apple Pay and limits competition.

“It finds the easiest solution and forces other, potentially slower systems that are forced to rely on bluetooth technologies aside,” she said.

Keep the customer satisfied
Schleidt said that Jyske Bank is not “forcing Apple Pay down its customers’ throats” and that they continue to offer other mobile payment methods.

“This is basically an opportunity for our customers, who can see it is a good idea.”