Apple to resolve conflict with Swiss payment app TWINT

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The battle between Apple Pay and the Swiss banks' payment app, TWINT, is nearing a conclusion with Apple agreeing to no longer interfere at the point of sale when a consumer is attempting to make a purchase with TWINT. However, the counterclaim that the Swiss banks are colluding to suppress their payment cards from being used on Apple Pay remains unresolved.

The Swiss Competition Commission’s (COMCO) Secretariat has announced that it is closing the investigation against Apple because the company has committed to immediately provide a technical solution that will enable TWINT to suppress Apple Pay during a payment transaction which the consumer initiated with TWINT.

“The agreement will put an end to this obstruction by Apple. This means we will be able to ensure our customers enjoy uninterrupted use of TWINT at cash-register terminals. We are continuing to work intensively on expanding our product on an ongoing basis,” stated Markus Kilb, CEO of TWINT in a press release.

The conflict caught the attention of the COMCO regulator in charge of enforcing antitrust regulations. On one side of the issue, Swiss banks are boycotting Apple Pay. On the other side, Apple Pay interferes with TWINT users during a payment by automatically overriding it.

Apple will now allow TWINT to be able to suppress the launch of Apple Pay during a TWINT transaction when the device is placed next to a contactless terminal.

The issue stems from the different approaches the two different payment services. Apple Pay is an NFC-driven payment app that requires a user to hold the iPhone or Apple Watch next to a contactless POS terminal to enable payment. In contrast, TWINT is a QR code-based application that requires a user to scan a QR code being displayed at the payment terminal; it also supports Bluetooth in some stores. So when a consumer has engaged the TWINT app for payment and holds their iPhone next to the terminal, the phone detects an NFC reader and launches Apple Pay instead.

The side of the battle that still remains open is the bank boycott of international mobile payment services such as Apple Pay. Credit Suisse, UBS, American Express’ subsidiary Swisscard AECS and other Swiss banks are being investigated by COMCO for possible collusion by agreeing not to release their credit cards for use in mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Instead, the banks are promoting their cards to be used by TWINT, which was developed by PostFinance AG, the financial services unit of Swiss Post. As part of the probe into the Swiss banks’ boycott, COMCO has begun to raid the offices of the companies involved.

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