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Apple's offer to open up tap-and-go tech to be approved by EU next month, sources say

FILE PHOTO: Apple logo at an Apple store in Paris

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Apple's offer to open its tap-and-go mobile payments system to rivals is set to be approved by EU antitrust regulators as soon as next month after it tweaked some of the terms, people familiar with the matter said.

Apple's bid to settle the four-year investigation would help it dodge a finding of wrongdoing and stave off a potential hefty fine that could be as much as 10% of its global annual turnover.

Apple's tap-and-go technology called near-field communication, or NFC, allows for contactless payments with mobile wallets.

The European Commission two years ago accused Apple of thwarting competition for its Apple Pay mobile wallet by preventing rival mobile wallets app developers from accessing its tap-and-go technology.

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The U.S. tech giant in January offered to let rivals access its NFC on its iPhones, iPads and other Apple mobile devices free of charge without having to use Apple Pay or Apple Wallet, with access based on fair and non-discriminatory criteria.

It also offered to provide additional functionalities including defaulting of preferred payment apps, access to authentication features such as FaceID and a suppression mechanism, and also to set up a dispute settlement mechanism.

Apple was asked to tweak some of the terms following feedback from rivals and customers. The NFC proposal would be for 10 years.

The Commission aims to accept the offer by the summer, with May as the likeliest month although the timing could still change as it waits for Apple to work out the final technical details, the people familiar with the matter said.

The company was hit with a 1.84 billion-euro ($2 billion) fine, its first EU antitrust penalty, last month for thwarting competition from Spotify and other music streaming rivals via restrictions on its App Store.

($1 = 0.9388 euro)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey)