The Dutch competition regulator has fined Apple millions for its reluctance to comply with requests to allow dating apps to use alternative billing methods.
The background: dating apps should be allowed to bill autonomously
Since time immemorial, all apps available in Apple’s App Store have been tied to billing for paid options through Apple’s payment service alone. The Dutch competition authority sees this practice as a problem, at least in the dating sector, and had in the past ordered Apple to allow dating apps to bill customers independently of their own payment system. Apple took action against this order and was thus able to achieve a temporary suspension of the obligation, but was ultimately forced to implement the order by mid-January.
Shortly before the deadline, the company then presented two new interfaces that allow other companies to process their payments away from the only payment system available so far. However, a commission is still to be incurred in the process.
However, this is not enough for the Dutch regulator. It first criticized the fact that Apple has so far only announced the two alternative payment processing options, but has not yet implemented them. For companies that offer dating apps via the App Store, there is currently only the possibility of registering their interest in the new interfaces. In practice, however, they are currently still tied to Apple’s previous service.
Furthermore, the regulator points out that Apple have erected several barriers that continue to put dating app operators at a disadvantage. The main point highlighted here is that the external service providers have to decide whether they want to use an internal or an external interface. Apple excludes the parallel use of both options, which the Dutch authority considers illegal. However, it has not yet commented on the commissions that Apple intends to collect in any case.
Apple has not yet commented on the specific allegations. It is only known that the company does not agree with the order and wants to take further steps. Now, however, Apple must pay five million euros in fines – for each week in which the implementation is not carried out. However, the sum accumulated in this way must not exceed 50 million euros.