Russia’s antitrust agency on Thursday said it had written to Apple, asking the U.S. tech giant to explain why Russian users of Apple devices don’t have access to full functionality of banking and payment services, reports Reuters.

The article notes that Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has fined Apple around $26 million in the last two years related to what it described as Apple’s abuse of its dominant position concerning the mobile apps market and in-app payments. 

Tussles between the FAS and Apple are an ongoing thing. In February 2023, Apple paid a 906 million rouble (about US$12.12 million) fine in a Russian antitrust case alleging abuse of its dominance in the mobile apps market. The FAS claims that Apple “prohibits iOS app developers from telling clients inside the app about the possibility of paying for purchases outside the App Store or using alternative payment methods.” Apple said it “respectfully disagreed” with the decision and attempted to prevent the regulator from investigating the App Store in April 2023, but it was dismissed by the court system.

On July 12, 2022, a Moscow court fined Apple 2 million roubles (about US$33,900) for allegedly refusing to store the data of Russian citizens on Russian territory, the Interfax news agency reported. In April 2022 a Moscow court ruled that it was lawful for Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator to open an antitrust case against Apple over an App Store payment dispute, dismissing a case brought by the tech giant. 

In December 2021 Apple brought legal action against the Russian agency in an effort to challenge the request to “stop abuse in the market” submitted by that body earlier this year,” according to a RT report.

Apple sough a judicial review of a warning, which is forcing the iPhone maker to allow app developers to tell customers about alternative payment options when using its App Store platform. The warning, delivered by the Russian government body in August 2021, gave Apple a September 30 deadline to resolve the issue. Back then, the regulator warned that the tech giant could face a fine that would be calculated based on its revenue in Russia. In October 2021, the country’s anti-trust watchdog launched proceedings against the company for non-compliance with the request.

Apple has also faced a battle with the FAS over App Store pricing. In September 2020. Fedot Tumusov, a member of the Russian State Duma,  proposed a law that would force Apple to cut app store commission fees down from 30% to 20%. The law would require that a third of the app store commission be paid to the Russian government as part of a fund to train IT specialists.

In response, Luca Bertoletti, senior European affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center (a “global grassroots movement for consumer choice”), said the Russian government’s policy would be a significant step back towards the socialist economy that would discourage competition, and, in the end, drive Apple out of Russia thereby hurting Russian consumers. 

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today