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Despite the technological dominance of Silicon Valley, the United States has lagged behind Europe for most of this century in advances in mobile networks and payment systems.
Crystal clear voice calls and contactless payments came to the continent long before they were widely available in America. Chip-and-PIN credit cards didn’t arrive until a decade after their adoption in Europe, while New York’s subway system moved in 2021 to express contactless payments at barriers with your phone.
On Monday I returned from three weeks in the US, as I was amazed at how well the payments had been made since my last visit five years ago. Covid’s aversion to consoles, combined with technology from the likes of Square and Apple Pay, meant there was contactless connectivity everywhere I went.
While it was helpful to flash my phone at ticket barriers instead of buying a New York MetroCard, there was an irritation from rotating screen terminals in California coffee shops, where you were pressured to add a 15%/20%/25% tip for The one who just put the donuts in the bag for you.
While the convenience is great, Apple aims to simplify the experience even more with a Tap to Pay option that will just be iPhone to iPhone and removes the need for a peripheral device.
With the big tech companies now getting a large portion of the payments, Europe has been upset by the new rise of the United States through the efforts of a handful of companies.
On Monday, European Union regulators accused Apple of breaching competition law by abusing its dominant position in mobile payments to limit competitors’ access to contactless technology.
It accused it of blocking competitors from accessing wireless near-field communication (NFC) chips, while its Apple Pay system took advantage. Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president responsible for competition policy, said Brussels had “indications that Apple has restricted third-party access to key technology needed to develop competing mobile wallet solutions on Apple devices.”
The results of the investigation added: “Apple Pay is the only mobile wallet solution that can access necessary NFC inputs on iOS. Apple does not make it available to third-party app developers for mobile wallets.”
Apple denied this, saying: “Apple Pay is only one of many options available to European consumers to make payments, and it has ensured equal access to NFC while setting industry-leading standards for privacy and security.”
The company is certainly an industry leader in taking a large slice of the market. Even if the EU prevails and changes are enforced, Apple Pay will take some time to deal with contactless payment technology, as it becomes the preferred method of payment in the real world.
Internet (five) things
1. The UK has pulled back from aggressively dealing with big tech companies
The United Kingdom is preparing to suspend plans to enable a new tech regulator, in a blow to global efforts to rein in big tech companies. The government’s new legislative program is not expected to include a bill to provide the legal basis for the digital markets unit that is based in the Competition and Markets Authority. Without the legislation, it would not be able to set rules for leading internet companies and fine them for breaking those rules.
2. BoJo lobbies on SoftBank over the London IPO
The UK prime minister has joined the latest push to persuade chip designer Arm to list his name in London. Boris Johnson and the London Stock Exchange launched a charm offensive to persuade Japanese arm owner SoftBank to rethink its strong preference for a New York listing. Arm is close to regaining control of its renegade joint venture in China, which has been an obstacle to its IPO.
3. Technical stocks are volatile after quarterly earnings
First-quarter revenue at Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Meta combined was up about $38 billion from a year ago — an average gain of 13 percent. However, the Nasdaq came under pressure, posting its worst monthly drop in April since the 2008 financial crisis as investors reassessed high valuations.
4. Alibaba and Xiaomi shares plunge
Alibaba shares fell 9 percent on Tuesday after a report by Chinese state media about the arrest of a person named “Ma”. They later recovered, after the report was changed to indicate that the person was not Alibaba billionaire founder Jack Ma. Xiaomi shares fell sharply after Indian authorities accused the world’s second-largest smartphone seller of making “illegal transfers” and confiscated about $730 million. Lakes says India is just beginning to restrict Chinese technology groups.
5. Yuga Labs sells $285 million worth of virtual land
The creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club generated $285 million worth of cryptocurrency in “metaverse” land sales over the weekend. Yuga Labs has apologized for the insane traffic jam of 55,000 virtual plots in the upcoming game Otherside.
Technology Gadgets – iDIY by Apple
iPhone owners now have an official way to personally extend the life of their devices, as Apple launched a self-service repair shop last week. The company has been under pressure for years to make its products easier to repair and its new layout provides manuals and more than 200 original Apple parts and tools through the store. The service is only available in the US initially, with plans to expand it to Europe later this year. Repairs covered for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and iPhone SE (3rd generation) lineup, including screen, battery and camera. Apple will send out $49 gadget rental kits to customers who need them, with free shipping. You’ll follow guides, parts, and tools for making repairs on Mac computers with Apple chips.
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