Apple has confirmed that it will allow third-party developers to access the iPhone’s NFC chip in the European Union as part of massive changes it’s introducing today to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
With this change, contactless payments powered by the iPhone’s NFC chip can be implemented with a different infrastructure and backend to that of Apple Pay or the Wallet app. Banks and other financial institutions based in Europe will now be able to implement their custom third-party payment solutions.
Apple will also give iPhone users to set a default payment app to launch when near a contactless payment terminal or when the side button is double-clicked, much like setting a default web browser other than Safari. Currently, the default behavior of iPhones running iOS 17.3 and earlier is to launch the Wallet app or a predetermined payment card when near an NFC terminal or through side button activation, but users will now have the option to alter this behavior.
Apple says that third-party payment apps will be required to pass certain industry security standards, including the possession of up-to-date agreements with an approved Payment Service Provider in the European Economic Area (EEA). The company confirmed these changes earlier this week and has now provided additional details as promised.
These changes not only apply to the EU but also to the EEA. The European Economic Area includes the 27 member states of the Union but also adds three countries namely Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein. Banks and other financial institutions in those three countries will be able to access the iPhone’s NFC chip, but other App Store changes are exclusive to EU nations.
Apple Pay is supported by over 2,500 banks in Europe, which means that the potential for a contactless payment system that rivals Apple’s is huge in the continent.
Apple Pay first launched in 2014 on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus before expanding to the Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. In addition to NFC contactless payments, Apple Pay can also be used for web and in-app purchases, which are authenticated with Touch ID or Face ID.