Apple’s new plans for dating apps in the Netherlands have failed to satisfy the country’s competition regulator, which has today fined the corporation another €5 million (about $5.6 million). It’s the company’s fourth weekly fine, bringing the total to €20 million (about $22.6 million). The penalties will continue weekly as long as the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) believes Apple is not complying with its decision.
Apple should allow dating app developers — and only dating app developers — to utilize alternatives to Apple’s in-app payment mechanism in the country, according to the ACM’s order, which was made public in late December. In mid-January, Apple indicated its intention to comply with the decision, and early this month, it explained its plans in detail.
The ACM, on the other hand, isn’t pleased with Apple’s ideas, claiming that “the updated conditions that Apple has imposed on dating-app providers are excessive, and create an unneeded obstacle.”
It particularly dislikes Apple’s request that developers submit a distinct software binary for the Dutch market, which it feels would increase developer costs and force customers to download a new, separate app to access other payment systems. The regulator also expresses dissatisfaction with “many other parts” of Apple’s recommendations, stating that the company must make changes to avoid future penalties.
Despite its efforts to comply with the order, Apple has decided to appeal the decision of the ACM. Offering alternatives to Apple’s in-app payment method “would impair the user experience and introduce significant concerns to user privacy and data security,” according to the iPhone maker. The Verge reached Apple for comment on the ACM’s latest notification, but no one responded right away.
Apple’s earnings from in-app purchases from dating apps in the Netherlands are likely to be a small percentage of its overall revenue. However, the dispute is noteworthy because it might set a precedent in the middle of an international backlash against Apple’s App Store policy.
According to Apple’s planned policy, dating app developers who use alternative payment systems will be charged a 27 percent commission, a tiny reduction from the 30 percent commission charged when developers use Apple’s own in-app payment system. Alternative payment solutions will need developers to create a new software binary released through the Dutch App Store. According to Reuters, Match Group (owners of Tinder and other dating sites) filed a complaint with the ACM.
Interestingly, Apple’s aim to take a 27 percent commission on in-app payments made through alternative payment systems is not mentioned in the ACM’s notification filed today.
Apple previously missed the ACM’s deadline for modifying its policy, resulting in a €5 million (about $5.7 million) weekly penalty until it complied. Apple has raised barriers for developers who wish to use third-party payment systems, such as requiring them to choose between utilizing payment systems outside the app or other payment systems within the app, according to the Dutch regulator.
Apple’s App Store standards have come under growing scrutiny from both developers and regulators worldwide. In response to a court challenge from Epic Games in the United States last year, a judge ordered the company to allow developers to link to external payment processors. However, the verdict was later put on hold, awaiting appeal. In addition, South Korea has established legislation prohibiting platform owners such as Apple and Google from prohibiting developers from utilizing alternative payment systems.