Dutch Regulator Now Happy With Apple's Rules Surrounding Dating Apps

Following a months-long saga, the competition regulator in the Netherlands has finally accepted concessions by Apple to allow dating apps in the App Store to use alternative payment methods (via Reuters).

iOS App Store General Feature Sqaure Complement
On Friday, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) released an update stating that "Apple now complies with the rules" regarding dating apps' ability to let their customers pay in different ways other than Apple's own payment method. The statement continued:

"That is why ACM no longer needs to impose a new order subject to periodic penalty payments. Over the past few months, ACM had collected information from dating-app providers and independent experts before its assessment that Apple complied with the order."

In December 2021, the ACM announced that Apple must let dating apps accept alternative payment methods on the ‌App Store‌ in the Netherlands. Apple complied with the demand, but it initially required Dutch dating apps to submit a separate app binary to accept alternative payments.

The ACM had remained unsatisfied with the changes, and the regulator fined Apple a total of €50 million between January and March for failing to comply with the order.

Apple dropped its requirement that dating apps compile a separate binary, which the regulator had deemed "unreasonable" and an "unnecessary barrier" for developers of dating apps. Apple also announced further changes to its policies on Friday, but said it does not believe these updates are "in the best interest" of user privacy or data security, and it is continuing to appeal the original ACM order.

"Until recently, customers of dating apps had only been able to pay using the payment method that Apple imposed," the ACM wrote in its latest update. "In ACM's opinion, Apple abused its dominant position with those practices. From now on, dating-app providers are able to let their customers pay in different ways."

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Top Rated Comments

seanmills1020 Avatar
28 months ago
What is the most popular Dutch dating app?

Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Justin Cymbal Avatar
28 months ago
I’m happy that they’re happy

Everyone is happy

Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
28 months ago
Well they are still going to have to pay the other 27% via invoice and now will be on the hook for fraud compliance and chargeback management. The Netherlands needs to regulate those companies and their deceptive behaviors. That industry has always been shady. They want to control cancellations like on websites. Good luck figuring out how to successfully cancel now. Some shady sites will keep charging you after you officially cancel forcing a second call.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
28 months ago

What exactly was the concession again? The developers still need to pay Apple their cut even on transactions made via third party payment options, right?
These companies just want to bring their true revenue driver to iOS. Cancellation dodging. Apple makes it too easy to cancel. They will quadruple their profits
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
senttoschool Avatar
28 months ago

why only dating apps? why are they special?
Dating apps have a monopoly on tech lobbyists in the Netherlands.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kc9hzn Avatar
28 months ago

These companies just want to bring their true revenue driver to iOS. Cancellation dodging. Apple makes it too easy to cancel. They will quadruple their profits
This is probably unfortunately true considering that Match Group has been one of the groups stateside fighting for alternative payment systems. They’re definitely masters of the dodgy subscription scheme, with multi month mandatory payment schemes (for Match itself, you simply can’t get a subscription month by month, they’re either three, six, or twelve months, but you pay each month), difficult cancellations (considering that “match.com subscription cancellation” and “match.com subscription refund” are two of the top Google autocomplete suggestions for “match.com subscription” gives you a bit of an insight into what you’re getting into), and they’ve been known flat out to engage in fraud to get you to pay up (they got busted by US courts back in 2019 or early 2020 sending messages from fake profiles to people using Match.com for free, in order to trick them into paying so they could see messages).

This is Match Group, the face of mainstream online dating (only real competition is eHarmony and Bumble). And this is just Match.com, I can only imagine how aggressively monetized Tinder is (and some of their other properties are), and the subtle algorithmic tweaks and dark patterns they employ to convince you to pay for it. I’ve vowed never to give Match Group a single cent more, personally, due to how dodgy they are.

So it really wouldn’t surprise me at all if cancellation dodging is part of the plan. I was downloading apartment apps back in 2019, and I downloaded what turned out to be an exclusively Dutch app. And, before I could realize that, I’d picked the trial subscription option (3 days, followed by a $100+ USD price per month or maybe six month period). The fact that cancellation of Apple subscriptions is so easy and trustworthy was a real life saver. I was able to quickly realize “wait, these are all Dutch listings” and immediately cancel the subscription during the trial phase.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)