The Dutch antitrust watchdog, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), has said that Apple will allow its customers to pay for various Dutch dating apps by using different payment options embedded in such apps. This brings to the end a dispute that left Apple owing more than for $52 million in fines.
Previously, Apple demanded that in-app payments for App Store transactions be made using Apple’s own in-app payment platform, which allowed the company to take out a cut of 15% to 30% of the transaction’s valuation. Third-party and alternative payment platforms were not allowed and any developer that offers links to alternative payment options faces expulsion from the App Store.
In late 2021, Epic Games tried to promote its own payment platform for its popular Fortnite game, which would have resulted in players paying less for in-game currency. Apple reacted by kicking Epic and the Fortnite game out of the App Store. In the Netherlands, Apple’s failure to allow consumers to pay for dating apps using alternative payment methods resulted in Apple getting fined weekly.
Apple claimed that it was complying with the demands of the Dutch watchdog agency and should not be fined. However, the tech giant’s solution was to force developers of Dutch dating apps to release separate versions of their apps for the U.S. and the Netherlands. This way, Apple could continue to collect its 15% to 30% cut on dating apps installed by its customers in the United States while allowing those in the Netherlands to pay using an alternative payment platform.
The ACM claims that this solution created an “unnecessary barrier.” On the other hand, Apple said that with its plan, “it will comply with its legal obligations in the Netherlands while at the same time having the ability to maintain its standard terms and conditions in the rest of the world.”
In a statement, the ACM told Reuters: “Apple has changed its unfair conditions, and will now allow different methods of payment in Dutch dating apps. With this concession, Apple will meet the requirements that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) set under European and Dutch competition rules. Until recently, customers of dating apps had only been able to pay using the payment method that Apple imposed.”