WeChat users in China can soon resume tipping

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Apple came to an agreement with tech giant Tencent to reintroduce the feature.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Nearly 1 billion users of Chinese messaging app WeChat will soon be able to resume sending tips to content creators with their iPhones.

Tipping a fellow user is a big part of the popular social media platform in China. However, last year a dispute over whether Apple should get a healthy cut of those tips basically blocked WeChat tipping.


At the time, Apple considered WeChat tips in-app purchases. Cupertino takes a whopping 30 percent slice of such transactions.

Now, Apple has come to a meeting of the minds with Tencent, the $500 billion Chinese tech giant that runs WeChat. At a developers’ conference in Guangzhou this week, WeChat creator Allen Zhang revealed that Tencent and Apple have come to an arrangement that will allow transfers to resume as before.

“In the past, companies like Apple might have had a difficult time understanding China-specific features,” Zhang said. “We now all share a mutual understanding and we’ll soon bring back the ‘tip’ function.”

WeChat tipping is back on track

As we wrote at the time, “Culturally, tipping is viewed as being separate from purchases. This means that customers are unlikely to be happy knowing that money they have handed over to a creator is subject to what amounts to a fine from Apple.”

Sure enough, Apple’s move upset many users.

No date has been given for when the WeChat tipping feature will make its return. But Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines last September to lay out how tips could avoid the Cupertino skim:

“Apps may enable individual users to give a monetary gift to another individual without using in-app purchase, provided that (a) the gift is a completely optional choice by the giver, and (b) 100% of the funds go to the receiver of the gift. However, a gift that is connected to or associated at any point in time with receiving digital content or services must use in-app purchase.”

For iPhone users in China — a market Apple is very keen to grow — the return of WeChat tips will come as very good news indeed.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, PCMag