Apple to Allow In-App Third-Party Payment Options for First Time in the Netherlands

Apple has announced that it will allow third-party payment options for in-app purchases for dating apps in the Netherlands, in the first ever concession of its kind.

iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue
In a message posted on its developer site late on Friday, Apple announced that it will comply with a Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ruling that compels the company to allow third-party payment services to pay for in-app purchases in dating apps. Dutch dating apps that link out to or use a third-party in-app payment provider will still need to pay a commission to Apple on transactions.

Recent orders from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will allow developers of dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands to share additional payment processing options with users.

[...]

To comply with the ACM's order, we're introducing two optional new entitlements exclusively applicable to dating apps on the Netherlands App Store that provide additional payment processing options for users. Dating app developers who want to continue using Apple's in-app purchase system may do so and no further action is needed.

To implement third-party payment options in Dutch dating apps, developers will need to use Apple's entitlements, but the company warned developers that this will involve additional responsibilities and pose a number of new risks:

Before considering applying for one of these entitlements, it's important to understand that some App Store features that you may use won't be available to your customers, in part because we cannot validate the security and safety of payments that take place outside of the App Store's private and secure payment system. Because Apple will not be directly aware of purchases made using alternative methods, Apple will not be able to assist users with refunds, purchase history, subscription management, and other issues encountered when purchasing digital goods and services through these alternative purchasing methods. You will be responsible for addressing such issues with customers.

Apple added that it disagrees with the ACM ruling, believes it is "not in our users' best interest," and has appealed the decision to a higher court. Specifically, Apple explained that it is "concerned these changes could compromise the user experience, and create new threats to user privacy and data security."

Apple highlighted the benefits of its own payment system to developers, which continues to be available as an option for developers to use in Dutch dating apps:

Apple designed the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for people to discover and download apps. Apple's in-app purchase system, an integral part of our world-class commerce platform, offers people a private and secure user experience across apps and Apple devices, and makes it easy for them to manage their purchases and subscriptions for digital goods and services.

The order originated from a Dutch investigation started in 2019 that examined whether Apple's business practices amounted to an abuse of market power. The investigation included a complaint from Match Group, the owner of Tinder, which claimed that Apple's rules prevented it from communicating with its customers directly about payments.

The ACM said that Apple imposes "unreasonable conditions" by forbidding user choice about in-app purchase methods. Apple was warned that it had to allow dating apps to offer third-party payment options by Saturday, January 15 or face a fine of up to 50 million euros ($57 million). Apple said that it will provide further information about the mandated changes shortly.

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Top Rated Comments

Michael Scrip Avatar
32 months ago

Pathetic attempt on apple’s side to circumvent the law.
The Netherlands law (ruling) states Apple must allow third-party payments in dating apps in the Netherlands. So they are.

But there is not a law that eliminates all other commission fees or platform fees.

Apple can still collect a fee from developers of dating apps in the Netherlands.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Scrip Avatar
32 months ago

That they can do this shows they are a monopoly that requires governments to stop them.
So what's the actual issue here?

Is 15%, 27%, or 30% too high? Is anything higher than 0% too high in your mind? Should platforms be forbidden to collect any platform fees or commission fees? At all?

What exactly do you want governments to "stop" here?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lysingur Avatar
32 months ago
There are streaming apps created by shady companies who ask their cam models to encourage their fans to buy tokens on their official website, in clear violation of Apple's policy. Most of them also make it so if you use Apple Pay, the number of tokens you purchase is about 30 to 40% fewer than if you buy them directly. As if that's not bad enough, the link to buy tokens on their official site will selectively leak your credit card information to scammers, especially if the cards are foreign.

This kind of ruling will let similar scams take place out in the open without the unsuspecting having any kind of recourse in case they are scammed. Most people will be easily led to buy tokens outside of App Store and under the watchful eyes of Apple when developers make the tradeoff skews so much to one side. Except the hidden risk isn't explained to you until it's too late.

The security vs. freedom argument is really a red herring. It's always about finding the right balance between the two. Today it's dating apps. Tomorrow it'll be any app that incurs recurring payments. And before you know it, there is no longer any kind of policing in the App Store and you're out there to fend for yourself against pirates and looters (figuratively speaking).
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michael Scrip Avatar
32 months ago

The move will circumvent Apple's 15 to 30 percent commission on in-app purchases...Apple added that it disagrees with the ACM ruling, believes it is "not in our users' best interest"

Speaking as a user, I consider a potential 15% to 30% reduction in IAP prices charged by a developer to be in my best interest.
That's only if the developers lower the price. It's the developers who set the price that you see and that you pay.

I'd imagine most developers would still charge the same for IAP items even if they had the commission fees lowered.

But I'm happy to be wrong.

:P
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bgraham Avatar
32 months ago

So the consumer is "protected" if they click a different button to make a payment on some other screen or web page?

Alright.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Protected from Apple’s 30% monopoly pricing, yes.

If the consumer wants Apple’s “protection” so badly, they’d be willing to pay 30% more for it.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Carnegie Avatar
32 months ago

That they can do this shows they are a monopoly that requires governments to stop them.
With regard to its intellectual property, yes, Apple is absolutely a monopoly. That's how intellectual property rights, by design, work - they grant legal monopolies. If you want to use Apple's IP, you need its permission. And it is allowed to impose a range of terms in exchange for granting such permission, to include charging a commission if someone wishes to use its IP in certain ways. It may allow certain uses without any charge, or with some minimal up front charge. It may allow certain uses with a flat per transaction or per unit fee. It may allow certain uses with a percentage fee. The terms Apple has been imposing are fairly typical when it comes to licensing intellectual property.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)