Four Venmo and Cash App users have filed a new antitrust lawsuit against Apple Inc., claiming that the tech giant abuses its dominant position in the mobile peer-to-peer payment sector to stifle competition and artificially inflate prices. The lawsuit, initiated in a federal court in California, claims that Apple's agreements with Venmo and Cash App limit "feature competition," leading to inflated prices for transactions and services without competitive checks.
The plaintiffs, from various U.S. states, are seeking an injunction that could potentially compel Apple to divest or partition its Apple Cash operations. The complaint highlights Apple's rejection of Bitcoin wallet apps Zeus and Damus from its App Store, asserting that these actions hinder feature competition, particularly the integration of decentralized cryptocurrency technology in peer-to-peer payment platforms.
The lawsuit suggests that a peer-to-peer app leveraging decentralized crypto technology would allow iPhone users to send payments directly to each other, bypassing intermediaries. This move could introduce more competition and innovation to the mobile payment sector.
Apple has faced previous legal challenges related to its mobile app distribution system. In April, an appeals court ruled against the company's policies preventing app developers from directing users to alternative payment methods, emphasizing concerns about the balance of power in the mobile application marketplace.
The cryptocurrency community has also criticized Apple's policies regarding crypto-related applications on its App Store. The company's strict guidelines and profit-sharing protocols have posed challenges for cryptocurrency apps, raising questions about the fairness of Apple's approach.
Moreover, this antitrust lawsuit adds to the growing scrutiny of Apple's business practices, particularly in the context of its role in the mobile payments sector. As regulatory authorities and users demand more transparency and competition in the tech industry, legal actions like these underscore the challenges faced by major players like Apple.
The outcome of this lawsuit could have implications not only for Apple's operations in the mobile payment space but also for the broader discussions around antitrust issues in the technology sector. Industry participants, regulators, and proponents of fair competition in the developing world of digital payments and applications will be closely monitoring the case as it develops.