Apple Inc. has seen off efforts by Australia’s banks to form a negotiating bloc over the introduction of Apple Pay, a win for the U.S. technology giant in the global battle to control the future of mobile payments technology.
In a final ruling released on Friday, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said it was upholding its preliminary decision in December to refuse the banks permission to negotiate collectively.
“The ACCC is not satisfied, on balance, that the likely benefits from the proposed conduct outweigh the likely detriments. We are concerned that the proposed conduct is likely to reduce or distort competition in a number of markets,” Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on the regulator’s website.
The banks, which have invested in their own mobile technology in recent years, fear being shut out of the fast-growing Australian payments market and hoped to negotiate as a group to boost their bargaining power. Apple accused the banks — Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Bank of Australia Ltd., Westpac Banking Corp. and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd. — of attempting to “delay or even block” the introduction of the technology.
The banks said they were “disappointed” by the ruling and would now individually review and determine their future strategy for mobile payments.
“Apple has a stated desire to own the entire mobile wallet, and will use the beachhead into mobile wallets afforded to them by complete control over mobile payments on iPhone to exert control over the rest of the digital wallet,” the banks said in an emailed statement.