Apple must let dating apps offer other in-app payment options, Dutch regulator says
Apple must allow dating app developers to offer non-Apple payment systems for in-app purchases or face a heavy fine, according to a detailed decision released today by the Dutch Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM). The regulator has been investigating the company’s App Store practices since 2019, but Reuters reports that he decided 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 categories of applications, such as games or productivity applications, in the country.
“Some application providers depend on the Apple App Store, and Apple takes advantage of this dependence,” writes Martijn Snoep, chairman of the board of directors of ACM. “Apple has special responsibilities because of its dominant position. That’s why Apple must also take the interests of app providers seriously and set reasonable terms. “
In addition to allowing dating app developers to offer alternative payment systems, the Dutch regulator said they should also be allowed to direct users to payment options outside of the app. If the company does not do this before 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 purchasing system, which enables the company to reduce in-app purchases that customers make by 15-30%.
In a statement to The edge, Apple spokeswoman Marni Goldberg said the company “does not agree[s] to the order issued by the ACM and [has] filed an appeal. She went on to say that Apple “does not have a dominant position in the software distribution market in the Netherlands, has invested enormous resources in helping developers of dating apps reach out to customers and to thrive on the App Store, and has the right under European and Dutch law to charge the developers of such applications a fee for all services and technologies that Apple provides to them.
Yet governments around the world are scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules. In September, the company announced an agreement with a Japanese regulator to allow “reading apps,” like Netflix and Kindle, to direct users to external registration pages where customers can provide credit card information, bypassing Apple’s system. South Korea passed a law in August that allows developers to use payment systems other than those provided by platform owners and is would have decided what Apple and Google will need to do to comply.
The United States was also planning to open Apple up to third-party payments systems following its legal battle with Epic Games, but an appeals court stayed that ruling just before it took effect, which could take some time. months to solve.