The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has ruled that Apple's plan to allow App Store dating apps to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases does not sufficiently meet the requirements of a previous ruling. As a result, the ACM has hit Apple with an initial 5 million euro fine as a consequence, and fines will continue to be assessed at 5 million euros per week up to a maximum of 50 million euros until Apple complies.
Last week, following Apple's announcement that dating apps in the Dutch App Store would have the option to let users use third-party payments for in-app purchases, the ACM said it would assess whether those changes meet the requirements of a previous ruling. The ACM had previously ruled that Apple's App Store is unfair and Apple was engaging in anti-competitive business practices.
Apple's announced changes fail to "satisfy the requirements," the ACM said today in a press release. "At the moment, dating-app providers can merely express their 'interest'. In addition, Apple has raised several barriers for dating-app providers to the use of third-party payment systems," the ACM added, alluding to the fact that dating apps must first ask and receive approval for a special App Store entitlement to point users to third-party payment methods.
Apple's plan also appears to require developers to choose between offering a third-party in-app purchase option or being able to direct users to outside payment options, and the ACM says Apple must allow developers to offer both options.
Apple must adjust its conditions for access to the Dutch App Store for dating-app providers. In the App Store, dating-app providers must also be able to use payment systems other than Apple's payment system. In addition, dating-app providers must have the ability to refer to payment systems outside of the app. This had been laid down in an order subject to periodic penalty payments that ACM imposed on Apple in August 2021. On December 24, 2021, the court ruled that this part of the order could be published.
One major question about Apple's plans is its intent to continue to receive a commission for in-app purchases made with dating apps, even if the developer uses a third-party payment method. Apple has yet to reveal what the commission will be or how it plans to implement it.Continue Reading