back to article Apple says banks can't touch iPhone NFC without harming security

Apple has argued that allowing banks to use iPhones NFC chips independently of Apple Pay would compromise the phones' security. The argument has been aired in Apple's response to the four Australia Banks who have requested permission to negotiate with Apple as a bloc rather than join Apple Pay. The banks want their own apps to …

  1. aberglas

    Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

    You buy the phone and Apple buys you.

    1. cyke1

      Re: Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

      They looking after their customers OR more likely their hand in your wallet for every purchase you make using their service?

      1. Mark 85

        Re: Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

        I can see it being for both, actually. Security for users/customers is slowly becoming a big deal as the media starts to pick up on breaches, etc. Apple seems to have taken a stand on this and their walled-garden on the surface appears to be working. In return.. Danegeld.

    2. kmac499

      Re: Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

      So presumably with Apples superior security, they will indemnify their users against fraudulent transactions ??

      Yeah thought not.....

      1. Tessier-Ashpool

        Re: Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

        To an extent, they do, actually.

        As a customer you are naturally protected against fraudulent use of your bank or card account. However, who pays for that, ultimately? In the case of Apple Pay, Apple – at least in part –, since they take on some of the liability.

      2. rocwurst

        Re: Nice of Apple to look after their customer's secruity so well

        Apple Pay is far more secure than a contactless card which can be stolen and used to pay for items all day without any authentication. In contrast, a stolen Apple Watch or iPhone is useless thanks to Apple's biometric authentication architecture. Heck, you can even remotely locate your lost iPhone using Find My iPhone - try that with a lost credit card.

        Apple Pay also has far better privacy only sending a one-off token during a transaction and keeping your user identification private from the retailer

  2. Lyle Dietz

    I'm torn

    On the one hand, you have Apple whose products I won't use, and in the other you have the Big 4 Banks, whose products I won't use unless I have no other choice.

    Is it possible for the ACCC to upset both sides?

    1. Jonathon Desmond

      Re: I'm torn

      I doubt it's the 'Big Four' as such, because the ANZ are already signed up to Apple Pay, so It seems unlikely they would be party to this action.....

      1. rocwurst

        Re: I'm torn

        @Jonathon Desmond

        Indeed. The ANZ Bank has already broken ranks in Australia and partnered with Apple and been rewarded by a 20% surge in new customers.  No wonder the other big Aussie banks are shaking in their boots - they're losing all their customers to the ANZ.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The banks have a point I think. Apple's arguments resemble those used by MS to justify bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, arguments which were of course complete bollocks.

    It's not acceptable for Apple or Google to make an argument that competition does exist between the walled gardens being built by Apple and Google. Every service that the companies add to their walled gardens is yet another area in which no one else can compete. That's a juicy cartel.

    1. RobTub

      Comparison Off

      Everyone is free to design their own phones to sell, including any payment system they can design in. Apple will never do anything to compromise the security and quality of their products. But everyone is free to sell accessories and design apps for Apple products. What walled garden? Just look at the plethora of accessories around you - earphones, portable speakers, hifi systems, power banks, phone covers, charging cables, charging adapters; anyone can make any of these, and none will impact the security and quality of the Apple products you buy. If I don't like Apple, I can get Samsung. Cartel? Complete bollocks, as you might say.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Comparison Off

        Everyone is free to make accessories?

        Do you mean like the lightning connectors I got from the Pound Shop, which stopped working when Apple released an update to bork them?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Comparison Off

          I have Lightning cables I bought 4 for $10 that all work fine. If you don't like that they require that tiny chip so Apple can exercise some quality control on the products that are used with Apple hardware then you can go with Android.

          Remember how the $1500 Pixel laptop was fried by a dodgy USB-C cable because they left out a resistor that was required by the spec to save money? Sometimes letting the market offer cheap crap results in cheap crap being offered. You can't tell the difference between a properly made pound cable that follows the spec and a cheap crap pound cable that doesn't follow the spec and fries a laptop that wrongly assumed only cables that do follow the spec would be connected to it.

          1. imaginarynumber

            Re: Comparison Off

            AFAIK the chip was only required for communication, not charging.

            It would be illegal for a 3rd party to design their own chip. They have to licence them from Apple.So yes anyone is free to make accessories, provided that they pay Apple. So it ain't free..

            My leads were only used for charging and there is no evidence that they were dangerous.

            1. rocwurst

              Re: Comparison Off


              You are aware of the 2 people who were electrocuted by their cheap Chinese Lightning cables on their iPhones? That's enough evidence for me.

        2. RobTub

          Re: Comparison Off

          Not really. If you design a lightning cable, do it in full compliance to the product. Then it will work as well as the ones Apple make. If I buy non-Apple accessories, I will try to get it from reputable brands just to be sure. Brands like Verbatim, Belkin, and such. I don't think Apple bothers to 'bork' accessories.

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Comparison Off

        I think RobTub's missing the point. Apple and Google between them have a monopoly on the mobile phone space, and are using that to gain complete control of mobile payments as well as everything else the already control the flow of money for. Want to buy some music, or an app, or a book, or a movie, or a coffee with your phone? Guess who is creaming off the top and uses some flimsy security excuses to say only they should have that power? And every time there's someone creaming off the top, it's the consumer who ends up paying for it.

        Competition in processing charges on credit card transactions are the way in which the cost to retailers is minimised. There's not enough competition as it is. Google and Apple between them are seeking to establish a global duopoly of the means by which we buy goods and reduce the competition, and ultimately that can only be a bad thing for the consumer. If the retailers end up with no choice but to go along with Apple and Google and traditional credit cards disappear, there will be no competition left. And the retailers will have to pass the costs on to the consumer. That's why it's a bad thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Comparison Off

          Apple maybe, but not really Google. They may use certain tactics to steer you towards their products for sure, but unlike Apple anyone can access the NFC, anyone can make NFC payment apps, you can use any App Store, or download any App to it. There are no accessories or home grown standards that Google specify for Android Phones (although the daydream VR has restrictions) - even their Cardboard was opened to anyone.

          So there is definitely some strong-arm persuasion but they are not in the same league as Apple for restrictions.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Comparison Off

            Even if Google was doing the same as Apple and not allowing third party apps access to NFC, it isn't like "mobile payments" is some market segment that should be protected. Even though they have been available in various forms for several years now, a tiny fraction of 1% of all payments are done with mobile devices. It is impossible to imagine they will ever become even 10% of all payments, let alone enough that one or two companies having a 'monopoly' in them will be a problem. You will always be able to pay with your card.

            If the Apple/Google hegemony becomes too much for people, but they want to pay without a card, someone will come along and design a wristband or something else intended specifically for NFC payments. I don't think the market for "I don't want to carry a card" is large enough to justify that, but if it is shown to be by mobile payments exploding down the road, other options will come.

            What it really comes down to is that Apple has found a way to get a small cut of the transaction for the limited number of purchases made via Apple Pay and many banks worldwide have agreed to it. These four banks don't want to pay the 0.15%. Fine, don't participate in Apple Pay, tell your customers you only support Android Pay. Your customers will vote with their feet if they think having Apple Pay is important.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Comparison Off

              @ DougS

              ... and Apple Pay is considerably more secure. I suspect there are considerable insurance and fraud related cost savings to be had by the banks when they sign up for Apple Pay. In fact, it is probably a money making exercise for them. They (the banks) are just pissed off that they cannot buttfuck their customers as they have been continuously able to do since they cam into being.

              Writing as an Aussie, FUCK THE BANKS, they deserve to be marginalised, and the sooner the better, they are in no way a public service worthy of any protection.

            2. rocwurst

              Re: Comparison Off


              Apple has already captured 75% of all contactless payments (that's contactless credit cards and mobile phones/watches etc) in the USA are now made with Apple Pay - that's actually pretty massive.

              Apple has already negotiated a much lower surcharge with UK Banks than the 0.15% rate in the USA so Aussie banks should also be able to get a better deal.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Comparison Off

          "Apple and Google between them have a monopoly"

          Minor point. The mono part of monopoly means one. If it's Apple and Google, it's a duopoly.

    2. PassiveSmoking

      Not really, this thing is a fingerprint scanner after all. If it leaks data it can potentially leak a very sensitive piece of personal biometric data that you then can't subsequently change. I think caution is warranted.

  4. Richard Jones 1

    The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

    Sorry; for me this is a non story,

    I'm not in Aus;

    I don't want a touch phone and cannot use one at the moment anyway due to a needed pending hand operation.

    I don't want NFC, and not from a damned great silicon brick.

    I don't want to waste a fortune on something I could not use.

    Frankly why run up card charges anyway? Just pay the bill when its due. It is a lot cheaper and avoids hours spent seeking cheaper rates. Hours that might be spent doing something useful if my damned hand was fixed anyway.

    So cost walls, physical use walls, maker's restrictions walls all help keep me out.

    I want voice control with no need to sit for hours staring at a shiny dumb object. If I want that I can go to a museum where I not only do I not have to touch the things, I am told not to do so.

    1. RobTub

      Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

      Too bad such devices would not be useful to you. I am starting to try out Siri and so far, it is quite useful. When driving, without taking my eyes off the road I can press the Home button for two seconds, then after the car music automatically pipes down, I can say, "Call Thomas", or, "Take a note", or "Remind me to take my medicine at 3". Stuffs like that. And it works like a charm. It really feels like having a professional personal assistant right next to you. Of course, if your hand hurts, then turn on the "Hey Siri" option and you're good to go.

      "where I not only do I not have to touch the things, I am told not to do so" - LOL

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway


      Frankly why run up card charges anyway? Just pay the bill when its due. It is a lot cheaper and avoids hours spent seeking cheaper rates

      What on earth has that got to do with using or not using Apple Pay? I have Apple Pay linked to a Debit Card. No money in the Account means no transaction.

      As for voice control, whilst I sympathise with the issues you have with your hand, the last thing I want to do is tell the effing world my business. I can think of nothing worst than 200+ people in a train carriage all telling their devices, do this, do that....

      Sometimes there is a real benefit from keeping things to yourself.

      The last thing you want to do is broadcast to strangers 1) that you need your Ferrari serviced before 2) you head off to your villa on Cap Ferrat next week.

      And they think that posting selfies of you on your hols on Facebork is a security risk... Sheesh.

      1. Richard Jones 1

        Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

        Well, I don't use trains full stop. They are too painful, inaccessible and generally useless, besides the RMT keep telling me that;

        I'm better off by far if I can get where I'm going by car.

        See the mess in Southern Railways or should that be Southern Strikeways.

        One earphone press, one word and my ten year old phone makes a call if needed, job done. Its very useful in all sorts of places and the phone remains hidden away in an inside pocket.

        I have no use for mobile internet, where do I plug in the mouse while walking, shopping or doing anything else?

        I agree that sillybook adverts of the type you do not like are plain stupid, so no facebook, I have better things to do anyway.

        The Aus banks are said to want to hold onto their charges, hence my suggestion pay off the bill ASAP and avoid charges; use debit cards if you prefer, but there is one issue with them. A fraudulent entry is paid before you see it; if you use a so called credit card you do get to see the bill listing and can query or pay on the day of receipt. For me that is a huge advantage.

        I guess it is all down to life choices and thank god we do still get a few of them

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

          May I ask, how on earth someone like you ends up on TheRegister...?! I assume you don't work in any kind of I.T role in your daily duties if you have no smartphone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

            "I assume you don't work in any kind of I.T role in your daily duties if you have no smartphone."

            Smartphones aren't all used by smart people; assumptions like that are evidence enough.

          2. Mark 85

            Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

            I assume you don't work in any kind of I.T role in your daily duties if you have no smartphone.

            Many of us don't. We carry the damn cell because of "support 24/7". Texting, payments, email by phone and all the rest of the stuff isn't needed. Before I retired, I did enough with IT stuff that I didn't want to take it home with me. Meh.....

    3. imaginarynumber

      Re: The Garden Walls Keep Me Out Anyway

      You what?

  5. Medixstiff

    I wonder what would happen if the banks put up advertisements advising they cannot support Apple iPhone's, as the NFC chips are obviously faulty if they don't work with open source products?

    1. rocwurst

      Who do you trust - the Big Banks or Apple?

      >"I wonder what would happen..."

      Why the same thing that is happening now - the one Aussie Bank (ANZ) supporting Apple Pay will continue to steal the customers away from the Banks that don't. ANZ's new customer sign-ups have surged by 20% since they launched support for Apple Pay. My new ANZ credit card should be arriving in a couple of days.

      Do you really think those 1 Billion Apple customers around the world would trust the Banks instead of Apple in this matter?

  6. jaffa99

    banks can't touch iphone nfc without harming Apple's profits.

    Oh and regarding Apple security, there are plenty of celebrities out there with pictures of their snatches on the internet thanks to icloud, while their banks are keeping their money perfectly safe.

    1. rocwurst

      Re: banks can't touch iphone nfc without harming Apple's profits.

      >"there are plenty of celebrities out there with pictures of their snatches on the internet thanks to iCloud"

      You mean thanks to social engineering tricks grabbing their passwords. There was no hack of iCloud.

  7. Stevie


    I thought the standard way of paying for anything in Australia was to offer the vendor a gallon of gasoline in trade, then club them into unconsciousness with your antique sawn-off shotgun when they turn around, before taking whatever it was you wanted and making your escape in an unfeasible dune buggy with wheels the size of the London Eye or a former police car with an inexplicably still-operational supercharger.

  8. Andrew Jones 2

    So.... even though the app couldn't be put into the App store by the banks until Apple vet the app, that will harm security - despite the fact Apple will be able to see every single part of the app and how it all goes together before granting it access to the app store and to end users' NFC hardware. Funny that - you would think that was exactly what the app approval process was intended for.

    1. rocwurst

      You think Apple would be able to spot all possible vulnerabilities in thousands of proprietary Banking apps that might surface later?

  9. sleepy

    I like Applepay. The fee Apple takes is typically less than one tenth of the total fees for the transaction. The high security of the process means the transaction limit can be much higher, and that the fraud rate is substantially reduced. I suspect Apple's fee (it's 0.15% in the US) is less than the savings on fraud compared to other processing methods. Apple does not know to whom the payment is made, or for what, or the amount. The retailer does not see the card number, name, expiry etc. What Apple provides is: security, anonymity, convenience (especially with the watch), and no £30 cap (once you persuade the retailer that their system has probably been updated for the new secure protocol by now - I rarely encounter a £30 limit, although I frequently encounter staff telling me I can't use Applepay over £30. I just have to say "There's a system update, and it might work now. Why don't we try it and see?"). The issuing bank, the merchant's bank and Visa/MC are not cut out of the process. The reason why nearly all the banks are using Applepay is because it's a good deal for them: brings in more customers and turnover, cuts fraud.

    Apple have chosen the path of selling a complete device which works in a particular way (including mail, web, payments) rather than being open ended. And they charge a substantial premium for it. For the time being their track record on security and privacy for the end user is pretty good. I see no merit in declaring Apple's position to be immoral and anti-consumer when the consumer has the option to buy alternatives, with frequently lower price and better performing individual features (speech control, camera or whatever).

  10. Panicnow

    Happy the hand on balls isn't being squeezed that is

    "a notion she says hasn't bothered the 3,000 banks worldwide who happily signed up for Apple Pay."

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like