Image showing an iPhone displaying the Apple Pay screen.
At least one card issuer is tired of paying fees.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

A proposed class action lawsuit is taking aim at Apple Pay, claiming that it has an illegal monopoly over the payment method on the phone. The suit is being kicked off by an Iowa-based credit union that issues debit and credit cards that are compatible with Apple Pay, but the company wants to make it a class-action case so other card issuers can join.

According to the complaint, Apple makes over $1 billion a year charging credit card companies up to 0.15 percent per transaction in Apple Pay, and yet those same card issuers don't have to pay anything when their customers use "functionally identicalAndroid wallet." Apple is accused of violating antitrust law by making it so that Apple Pay is the only way to pay for things on its devices. It says that Apple prevents card issuers from passing on those fees to customers, which makes it so iPhone owners don't have any incentive to use a cheaper payment method.

“This is the third time the firm has sued the Big Tech giant for antitrust matters.”

A case like this can be decided by what a judge decides about the market for mobile wallet services. Even if a judge agrees that there is no real monopoly, customers can always switch to another mobile wallet.

A judge must decide whether or not to grant class-action status to lawsuits. The law firm handling the case for Affinity has a track record with class-action suits against Apple; it was involved with getting developers a $100 million settlement after allegations that the App Store's rules were unfair.

According to a press release from the law firm, the goal of the lawsuit is to change Apple's policies that force all payments to go through Apple Pay, and to make the company reimburse card issuers for the fees that they were charged.

This isn't the only problem Apple is facing. The EU objected to the fact that third-party developers can't use the iPhone's Near Field Communication system for payments, claiming that the restrictions lead to "less innovation and less choice for consumers for mobile wallet on iPhone." The company could be sued in the US over the issue.

Apple didn't reply to the request for comment on the case.