Proposed Class Action Lawsuit Targets Apple, Visa, and Mastercard Over Alleged Apple Pay Card Fee Antitrust Violations

Apple is facing a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that it accepted a bribe from Visa and Mastercard to maintain dominance over point-of-sale payment card services for Apple Pay transactions. The lawsuit, filed by Mirage Wine & Spirits on behalf of all U.S. merchants that accepted Apple Pay at physical point-of-sale, claims that Apple made an agreement with Visa and Mastercard that eliminated any incentive for Apple to develop its own competing payment network or allow other companies to use the iPhone’s “tap to pay” NFC functionality with third-party wallet apps. This has resulted in higher fees for merchants, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Visa and Mastercard offered Apple a significant cash bribe in exchange for not competing in the relevant market, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Apple has faced criticism in the past for blocking third-party access to its contactless payment technology. However, earlier this week, Reuters reported that Apple is in talks to avoid a fine in a case that has been ongoing since 2020.