Apple should let dating apps offer different payment options in the App Store

Illustration: Chris Delmas / AFP (Getty Images)

Apple’s App Store payment policy just took another blow in the Netherlands, where the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM, the country’s top competition regulator, found that the rules violated Dutch competition law by not allowing dating apps. provide users with alternative payment options.

In a decision published on Christmas EveAccording to the ACM, the conditions that apply to providers of dating apps – which are the same for all developers – are unreasonable. It ordered Apple to correct its policy and allow dating app developers to offer users other payment options both inside and outside the app. If Apple does not comply with the regulator’s decision within two months, it could face a fine of up to $56.5 million.

The ACM originally started investigating Apple’s in-app payment policy in 2019, according to Reuters, because of concerns that it would abuse its dominant position in the market. The company requires developers to use their in-app payment system — which prohibits them from linking or redirecting users to alternative payment methods — and takes a discount of between 15% and 30% on any purchase. However, over the course of the study, the scope was narrowed to focus on dating apps.

One of the biggest players in the dating app industry, Match Group, which owns several popular dating apps, including Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Hinge, has filed a complaint with ACM over Apple’s App Store rules. Reuters reported:. Match Group claimed that Apple’s policies hindered direct communication with its customers about payments.

In the announcement of the ACM decision, Martijn Snoep, chairman of the board of the regulator, says that protecting people and companies against abuse of market power in the digital economy is one of the most important tasks of the regulator.

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“Some app providers depend on Apple’s App Store and Apple leverages that dependency. Apple has special responsibilities because of its dominant position,” Candy said in a statement rack. “That’s why Apple must also take the interests of app providers seriously and set reasonable conditions. That’s what we’re forcing Apple to do with this order.”

Several countries, including the US, have recently been scrutinizing Apple’s App Store payment policies. A new one in September South Korean law came into effect that prohibits Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their in-app payment systems.

That same month, Apple announced: an agreement with the Japanese competition regulator about ‘reader apps’ or apps that offer subscriptions to content, including magazines, newspapers, books, music and videos. Under that agreement, Apple allows developers of these apps to include a single external link to an alternative payment option, such as: their own websites.

Meanwhile, in the US, Apple is defending its payment policy in the App Store in the Epic v. Apple case. The judge in that case, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, ruled against Apple and said it should allow developers to use “buttons or external links” to direct users to alternative payment options outside of the App Store. Apple has appealed the decision and was deferred compliance, meaning it doesn’t have to provide developers with the ability to offer alternative payment options yet.

An Apple spokesperson told Gizmodo on Sunday that the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for users” that offers a great business opportunity for all app developers. The spokesperson rejected ACM’s claim that Apple has a dominant position in the Netherlands and said the company has appealed against the regulator’s decision.

“We do not agree with the Order of the ACM and have appealed,” the company spokesperson said in an email. “Apple does not have a dominant position in the software distribution market in the Netherlands, has invested huge resources to help dating app developers reach customers and thrive in the App Store, and has the right under EU and Dutch law to ban developers of dating apps. to charge. apps pay for all the services and technologies Apple provides them.”

Gizmodo contacted Match Group on Sunday to request comment on ACM’s decision, but received no response at the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this article if we hear anything.

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