Dutch regulator tells Apple to allow apps to use payment processors
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ordered Apple to make it possible for dating apps to accept payment systems outside of the App Store system. The regulator said that Apple imposes "unreasonable conditions" on app providers. "If Apple does not adjust the unreasonable conditions within two months, it will have to pay a periodic penalty of 5 million euros per week up to a maximum of 50 million euros," the ACM wrote in a statement. The regulator accused the company of abusing its "dominant position."
The ACM decision and a corresponding district court ruling were officially published and filed on Friday. The ACM's objection to the App Store policy was rumored months ago, but immediately after the regulator issued its demand, Apple filed a court case and asked that the case be handled behind closed doors. A portion of the ACM's statement was also redacted, by order of the Rotterdam court.
The regulator noted that app providers pay 99 dollars annually to Apple to use the App Store, regardless if they are small or big businesses. About 15 percent of them offer paid services in-app, including subscriptions. "If an app provider wishes to offer paid services or subscriptions within its app (like dating apps), Apple imposes additional conditions."
In the Netherlands, most people who use a dating app on a mobile device use either an Apple iPhone or a device running Android. "On iPhones, dating apps can only be offered through the App Store, which makes dating-app providers highly dependent on Apple. Dating-app providers thus have little choice but to accept Apple’s conditions," the ACM wrote.
Businesses have often complained that Apple takes commissions ranging from 15 to 30 percent on sales made in the App Store. Additionally, it blocks app businesses from accepting payments through other means. "In that context, dating-app providers must also have the ability to refer in their apps to payment options outside the app."
Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Match.com, was one of the companies which complained about the App Store policy. It reportedly said that Apple's rules make it difficult to communicate directly with consumers about payments and offers.