Thursday, September 21

What Epic Games has not achieved with Apple, dating apps have achieved in the Netherlands: it will have to allow other payment methods there

Apple will allow netherlands dating app developers offer third-party payment options. The company has announced its decision to adopt the measure in order to comply with the order of the country’s Consumers and Markets Authority (ACM), which I had given him a margin until yesterday, January 15, to apply it if you do not want to expose yourself to sanctions.

The decision comes after the Dutch authority concluded in December that the North American firm had abused its position in the market by requiring dating app developers such as Match Group (MTCH.O) Inc, owner of Tinder, that they exclusively use Apple’s own payment system for its products and apply commissions of between 15 and 30%. Although the decision of the ACM only affects the Netherlands and the measure will not transcend its borders, the scenario you analyze it is far from exclusive to its territory.

A case that goes beyond the Netherlands

The practice of forcing developers to use Apple’s billing system and facing the payment of commissions of 30% for the purchases of its users has gone through the magnifying glass of regulators and legislators from other parts of the world. It has also caused loud clashes, such as the one recently carried out by Epic Games, developer of the popular game Fortnite. Both parties, Apple and Epic Games, clashed precisely because of the charging system. Or what is the same, whether or not creators like Epic have the right to use other payment gateways.

The case ended with Fornite out of the App Store and the “fight” in court, which at the end of 2021 issued a Solomonic decision. Epic Games had to pay Apple for introducing a direct payment system for iOS and the Cupertino firm was forced to allow developers to offer alternative payment methods, external to the App Store, as will now happen in the Netherlands. Of course, in December, almost in extremis, managed to get the court to delay that demand sine die.

In this context, the decision of the ACM and the assumption of Apple takes on special importance.

The announcement was made by the firm in an update posted on friday and aimed at Dutch app builders. “The recent orders of the ACM will allow developers of dating apps in the App Store of the Netherlands to share additional payment processing options with users”, details Apple, which advances, yes, that has appealed the regulator’s decision. “We are concerned that these changes may compromise the user experience and create new threats to the privacy and security of user data.”

Apple's trial against Epic Games already has a sentence: a "tie" with compensation in the millions and a historical obligation to allow other payment systems

Like it or not, the company admits in its statement that —until it has a favorable ruling from the courts— it is obliged to apply the changes required by the ACM. Hence, it “launches” it in the Netherlands and is introducing two new rights for developers, alternatives, it emphasizes, applicable only in that state and in the dating apps of its App Store. The goal insists: “Provide additional payment processing options”.

Developers may include a link in the app that directs customers to your own website to complete the sale or use a third-party system within the application itself. It maintains, of course, the alternative of continuing to use the usual purchase mechanism of Apple itself. “Developers of dating apps on the Dutch App Store who want to use a different payment system will have to apply for one of two new rights, which will be available soon”, specifies the signature of Cupertino, which emphasizes: Applications benefiting from the new “rights” can only be distributed on the Dutch territory.

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Interested parties will need to submit a separate app binary for iOS or iPadOS. One of the great keys that the company slides into its note is that developers they will not be freed in any case from going through the box. According to the ACM order, dating apps that are granted the right to link to or use a third-party in-app payment provider will pay Apple a transaction fee. assures that it will provide “more information on all aspects of rights” shortly.

The decision is in line with the philosophy that Apple will apply in South Korea, where, with the recently approved law in the Asian country, will also have to allow third-party payment systems in the App Store. There, as in the Netherlands, it advances that will charge a reduced fee to developers who choose to use alternative payment mechanisms.

South Korea is preparing to be the first country to legally force Apple and Google to accept multiple payment methods in their stores.

Both to benefit from the new “StoreKit external purchase right”, which uses a third-party payment system, and the “StoreKit external link”, which redirects to a website of the creator himself, these must also be Apple Developer Program account holders. Another requirement is that they will have to provide details such as the app bundle ID, payment processor, and the web domain where the purchases will be made.

As a icing, the multinational warns that if problems arise with the new payment options, it will not take responsibility. “Because Apple will not have direct knowledge of purchases made through alternative methods, it will not be able to help users with refunds, purchase history, subscription management and other issues that arise when purchasing digital goods and services. You will be responsible to solve these problems with customers”, he ditches.

Images | Zhiyue Xu Y Yames Jarena