In a recent development, Apple finds itself at the center of a class-action lawsuit, with consumers accusing the tech giant of engaging in anti-competitive behavior in the iOS peer-to-peer (P2P) payments market. The disgruntled plaintiffs claim that Apple conspired with payment platforms Venmo and Cash App, entering anti-competitive agreements to curtail the use of decentralized cryptocurrency technology in payment apps.
Excerpt of the suit alleging Apple restricts decentralized payment technology. Source: PACER
The complaint, filed on November 17 in a California District Court, asserts that these agreements hinder feature and price competition in the market, specifically by preventing the incorporation of decentralized cryptocurrency technology. The alleged consequence of this restriction is users paying inflated prices for services.
The lawsuit further contends that Apple employs various restraints, including hardware-enforced App Store exclusivity and contractual limitations on web browser technology. These measures purportedly grant Apple extensive control over every app installed and run on iPhones and iPads. The suit claims that Apple exploits these controls to mandate new iOS P2P payment apps entering the market to exclude cryptocurrency integration as a condition for entry.
Consumers involved in the lawsuit describe themselves as victims of inflated fees resulting from Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices across the iOS P2P payment market. Seeking recovery for damages and injunctive relief, the plaintiffs aim to prevent Apple from entering into and enforcing anti-competitive agreements that restrain competition in the iOS P2P payment market.
This legal action comes on the heels of a previous ruling in April by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In that ruling, Apple was found to have violated California’s competition laws by prohibiting apps from directing users to non-Apple linked payment solutions. The 58-page filing provides an in-depth examination of the evolution of peer-to-peer payment apps, decentralized cryptocurrencies, and Apple’s role in the market.
The lawsuit underscores the growing complexity of relationships between major tech companies, payment platforms, and the integration of cryptocurrency technology into mainstream mobile applications.