Apple must allow dating apps to use alternative in-app payment options, Dutch watchdog says

According to a ruling released last week by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Apple must allow dating apps to use non-Apple payment systems for in-app purchases. 

ACM has been investigating Apple’s App Store practices since 2019, but Reuters reported that it was later reduced in scope to focus primarily on dating market apps, including Tinder owner Match Group. 

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: “Some app providers are dependent on Apple’s App Store, and Apple takes advantage of that dependency. Apple has special responsibilities because of its dominant position. That is why Apple needs to take seriously the interests of app providers too, and set reasonable conditions. That is what we are forcing Apple to do with this order. Protecting people and businesses against abuse of market power in the digital economy is one of our most important duties.”

In addition to allowing dating app providers to use payment systems other than Apple’s payment system in the App Store, ACM says they must also be allowed to point users to payment options outside the app. If the company fails to do so by January 15th, it faces a 5 million euro-per-week fine, up to a maximum of 50 million Euros.

“We disagree with the order issued by the ACM and have filed an appeal,” Apple responded in a statement. Added that “Apple does not have a dominant position in the market for software distribution in the Netherlands, has invested tremendous resources helping developers of dating apps reach customers and thrive on the App Store.”

“We applaud the ruling issued today by a Rotterdam Court affirming the ACM’s decision that Apple’s forced use of its in-app payment systems and other practices violate Dutch and EU competition law, and must be eliminated by January 15th,” Match group said in an email statement.

Apple’s practice of requiring app developers to use the in-app payment system and pay between 15% and 30% fees on in-app purchases and subscriptions has come under scrutiny by regulators and legislators around the world. Last month, The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said that it plans to impose a penalty of up to 2% of Korean app market revenue on dominant app store operators like Apple and Google if they force app developers to use only their payment systems. 

The US was also planning to open Apple to third-party payment systems as a result of its legal battle with Epic Games, but an appeals court stopped that decision just before it took effect.

Written by Sophie Blake

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