Apple must let dating apps offer alternative in-app payment options, says the Dutch regulator

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Apple must allow dating app developers to offer non-Apple payment systems for in-app purchases or face heavy fines, according to a detailed judgment by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) published today. The regulator has been investigating the company’s app store practices since 2019, however Reuters reports that it chose to focus on dating apps after receiving a complaint from Match Group, owners of dating services like Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid.

This decision does not apply to other app categories such as games or productivity apps in the country.

“Some app providers are dependent on the Apple App Store, and Apple is taking advantage of this dependency,” writes Martijn Snoep, CEO of ACM. “Apple has a special responsibility because of its dominant position. That is why Apple must also take the interests of the app providers seriously and set appropriate framework conditions. “

The Dutch regulator says it not only allows dating app developers to offer alternative payment systems, but also to point out payment options outside of the app. If the company does not do so by January 15, it faces a fine of 5 million euros per week, up to a maximum of 50 million euros.

Currently, app developers are required to use Apple’s in-app purchase system, which allows the company to save 15 to 30 percent on all purchases customers make within an app.

In a statement to The edgesaid Apple spokeswoman Marni Goldberg, the company “does not agree”[s] with the order issued by the ACM and [has] Appealed. “She continued that Apple” does not have a dominant position in the software distribution market in the Netherlands, has invested enormous resources in helping dating app developers reach customers and be successful in the App Store, and has the right under EU and Dutch law “to charge developers of these apps a fee for all services and technologies that Apple makes available to them.”

Still, governments around the world are scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules. In September, the company announced an agreement with a Japanese regulator that would allow “reader apps” like Netflix and Kindle to direct users to external login pages where customers can enter credit card information, bypassing the Apple system. South Korea passed law in August to allow developers to use payment systems other than those provided by the platform owners and is reportedly deciding what Apple and Google will have to do to meet the requirements.

The U.S. also planned to open Apple to third-party payment systems over the legal battle with Epic Games, but an appeals court suspended that decision shortly before it went into effect, which could take months.


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