Nov 20 (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has been sued by Venmo and Cash App customers in a proposed class action claiming the iPhone maker abused its market power to curb competition for mobile peer-to-peer payments, causing consumers to pay “rapidly inflating prices.”
Four consumers in New York, Hawaii, South Carolina and Georgia filed the lawsuit on Friday in San Jose, California, federal court. They alleged Apple violated U.S. antitrust law through its agreements with PayPal’s (PYPL.O) Venmo and Block’s (SQ.N) Cash App.
Apple’s agreements limit “feature competition” within peer-to-peer payment apps, including prohibiting existing or new platforms from using “decentralized cryptocurrency technology,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction that could force Apple to divest or segregate its Apple Cash business.
Cupertino, California-based Apple, the only defendant in the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Representatives for PayPal and Block, which were not sued, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys at the law firm Bathaee Dunne declined to comment.
The case adds to Apple’s recent antitrust headaches. A U.S. judge in California in September ruled that payment card issuers can sue Apple over alleged anticompetitive practices involving its Apple Pay mobile wallet.
Apple in another case has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order in a lawsuit from “Fortnite” video game maker Epic Games challenging restrictions on in-app payment processing.
Peer-to-peer payments allow one user to send money via a mobile device directly to the account of another user.
The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit alleged Apple, Venmo and Cash App “have repeatedly raised prices for transactions and services with no competitive check.”
They argued that a peer-to-peer app based on “decentralized” crypto technology “would allow iPhone users to send payments to each other without any intermediary at all.”
The lawsuit said Apple has excluded from its App Store at least two Bitcoin wallet apps, Zeus and Damus, which is backed by Block founder Jack Dorsey.
The case is Lamartine Pierre et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. Case 5:23-cv-05981.
For plaintiffs: Yavar Bathaee and Brian Dunne of Bathaee Dunne
For Apple: No appearance yet
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Reporting by Mike Scarcella
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