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Apple landed with weekly €5M fine in the Netherland over in-app payment

Apple is now €5M in the hole in the Netherland for failing to comply with a ruling by the country’s Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) late last year.

The ACM has imposed a €5M fine on Apple for refusing to allow apps by online dating platforms to use third-party payment methods on Apple’s iOS devices. If Apple does not comply, it will be fined the same amount per week.

Apple did signify in a press release that it would comply with the ruling by setting up a method for the apps to use non-Apple methods to process payments in the Netherlands. It said developers would be allowed to put links to external payment solutions. The press statement said in part, “We are obligated to make the mandated changes which we’re launching today and we will provide further information shortly.”

However, the ACM has not been impressed with Apple’s implementation. It pointed out that while Apple has allowed app developers to express interest in using a third-party payment option, Apple has not allowed them actually use it in their apps.

The ACM also stressed that Apple worded its in-app payment policy to make apps choose between putting links to external payment methods and using third-party payment methods in the app. The regulatory body wants developers to be able to choose one or use the two simultaneously.

Part of the ACM’s press statement reads, “Apple has failed to satisfy the requirements on several points. The most important one is that Apple has failed to adjust its conditions, as a result of which dating-app providers are still unable to use other payment systems. 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. That, too, is at odds with ACM’s requirements. For example, Apple seemingly forces app providers to make a choice: either refer to payment systems outside of the app or to an alternative payment system. That is not allowed. Providers must be able to choose both options.”

The ACM says the fine will accumulate for as long as Apple refuses to comply. “ACM has informed Apple that its statements do not satisfy the requirements laid down in the order subject to periodic penalty payments. Apple is still obligated to act in accordance with said order. If it fails to do so, Apple will have to pay each week a penalty payment of 5 million euros up to a maximum of 50 million euros.”

Part of Apple’s condition to comply with the ruling was that developers would have to submit a different app for users in the Netherlands. The company also signified it would still demand a cut of payments whether the transaction passed through its platform or not.

Apple has not commented on the fine, but it indicated it would appeal the ACM’s decision, in the best interest of its users. “Because we do not believe these orders are in our users’ best interests, we have appealed the ACM’s decision to a higher court. We’re concerned these changes could compromise the user experience, and create new threats to user privacy and data security.”

However, prominent names in the tech scene have reacted. This includes the CEO of Epic Games, Tom Sweeney. His company took Apple to court last year for reasons related to external payment methods within apps and games. He tweeted his agreement with the ACM’s decision, referring to Apple’s solution as a “sham.”

The ACM’s ruling applies only to dating apps because the complaint that kicked off the investigation came from Match Group, the owner of several dating platforms.

Apple does not have a problem coughing up €5M per week, with revenue reaching nearly $1 billion per day in 2021. However, with rulings like this and in South Korea, Apple can become the subject of such orders in more countries. It has a case pending in the US where it has been ordered to allow developers to include external payment links in their apps.

Written by HackerVibes

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