Apple will let developers of dating apps in the Netherlands use third-party in-app payment options. The decision comes after Netherland’s Authority for Consumer and Markets (ACM) had issued an order in December asking Apple to change the “unreasonable conditions in its App Store” which applied to dating apps. While Apple still disagrees with the ruling, it is making some changes to the Dutch App Store for these dating apps.
In an update on the App Store, Apple has said “since February of this year, developers of dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands have been able to use the StoreKit External Purchase Entitlement or the StoreKit External Purchase Link Entitlement to enable the capability to sell services through a payment system other than Apple’s in-app purchase system.”
It has also removed the requirement that forced dating app developers using third-party in-app payment solutions to create a separate app binary for the Dutch App Store.
“This change means that developers may include either entitlement in their existing dating app, but still must limit its use to the app in the Netherlands storefront and on devices running iOS or iPadOS,” according to Apple’s updated information.
Further, apps using this “need to include an in-app modal sheet that explains to users that they’re going to make purchases through an external payment system, and the potential impact that choice could have on the user.”
Why does the issue matter
Apple has so far been fined 50 million euros in the Netherlands over the issue. According to The Verge, it had previously said it would allow dating apps to use alternative payment systems, but added a number of conditions, such as separate app binary along with collection of 27 per cent commission. Under the new update, it seems the separate binary condition has been given up. But it will continue to collect the 27 per cent commission on transactions for apps, even if a third-party payment system is used.
While Apple has said in the update it disagrees with the order and is appealing it, it boils down to the core issue of letting app developers use their own in-app payments systems for transactions. This become a discussion point across the globe. Both Apple and Google insist that app developers use the approve in-app payments systems. This means that an app on iOS needs to use the Apple in-app billing system for user payments. For example, if you want to buy extra coins or currency for any iOS game, the Apple payment system has to be used. The app developer cannot link to its own website or use its own in-app payment system for collecting this. For Apple and Google, this is also a way the 30 per cent commission, they charge from app developers.
But under EU’s upcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA) both players might be forced to do away with such regulation. The DMA in EU states that gatekeepers such as Apple and Google cannot impose unfair conditions for distribution of software, apps.It also calls for external payment systems to be allows within apps.
Meanwhile, South Korea has already passed a similar bill dubbed the ‘anti-Google bill’ forbidding both Apple and Google from forcing developers to use only the approve in-app billing system. In India too, app developers have protested against the rules and complained to the Competition Commission of India (CC). In the US, Apple is facing a similar battle over the issue with Epic Games. The court has already ruled against the company in the existing case, though Apple is still appealing the issue.