Australia hears case for open access to Apple NFC tech as QR codes will not do


Apple's alleged innovation-stifling practices where its NFC tech is concerned have now become the focus of an Australian Parliamentary committee, which on Monday heard the case for government intervention. The only payment application that can access the near-field communication (NFC) interface on an iPhone is Apple Pay, whereas all the other interfaces on an iPhone like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the camera, are open to any application. Apple has cited security as one of the reasons for holding back the tech. "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 said in response [PDF] to questions taken on notice from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services. "Google likely selected this implementation because Android software is used in a variety of hardware devices offered from many different companies other than Google, and therefore had to select a software-centric solution, even though it is a less secure than a secure element-based implementation. "Apple, which offers a tight integration between the operating system and its own hardware, is able to offer a fully integrated solution that is superior to Android's approach." It also told the committee an HCE implementation would lead to a worse user experience for consumers. Google in response said it does not believe there was any sort of security compromise in the HCE situation. "Our payments apps are immensely secure … 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," Google president of partnerships in the EMEA region Diana Layfield told the committee on Monday afternoon. "I would argue the user experience on Google Pay is equal to that of Apple Pay." Earlier this year, Germany, as part of its work on anti-money laundering, legislated the requirement for providers of technical infrastructures to grant access to those technical infrastructures to payment service providers. Apple and its NFC tech were captured by this legislation. "It has been our experience that opening access to the NFC chip has made for substantial competition around the world.

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