Regulator fines Apple and dismisses attempt to add alternative payments

Regulator fines Apple again, dismisses feeble attempt to add alternative payments


App Store image
Just as we thought, Apple's approach to alternative payments is a joke.
Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash CC

Dutch regulators hit Apple with another $5 million fine Monday for not properly complying with new rules that say dating apps should be allowed to accept alternative payment methods. The penalty now totals $20 million.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) dismissed Cupertino’s feeble attempts to satisfy its requirements and said developers should not have to build brand-new apps to offer alternative payments options.

Apple approach to alternative payments not enough

The ACM ruled last year that dating apps in the Netherlands should be allowed to offer payment options outside of the App Store. Apple appealed the ruling, but to comply with the law in the meantime, it announced app guidelines for developers who want to implement alternative payment systems into their apps.

As you might expect, those guidelines are designed to make it as difficult as possible to avoid the App Store. Apple wants devs to build brand-new apps that use third-party payment systems exclusively (they cannot also accept App Store payments in the same app) and to cough up a 27% cut of all sales.

The ACM says that’s not good enough.

“In its revised conditions, Apple imposes a considerable number of conditions on dating-app providers that wish to use an alternative method of payment…. ACM is of the opinion that this condition hurts dating-app providers,” read a statement published Monday.

‘ACM has doubts’

“Dating-app providers that opt for an alternative payment system are thus forced to incur additional costs. And consumers that currently use the app have to switch to the new app before they are able to use the alternative method of payment,” the statement continued. “It will cost app providers a lot of time and effort to inform consumers properly about such a change. In addition, ACM has doubts about several other elements of the revised conditions that Apple has imposed on dating-app providers.”

It’s not clear what those other elements are — though it’s likely the ACM isn’t too pleased with the 27% cut Apple is demanding just to list an app, which, thanks to its tight grip on iOS, cannot be listed elsewhere.

Apple must change

It’s clear Apple must do more to satisfy the ACM’s new regulations, and it’s unlikely to stop there. Regulators in the Netherlands aren’t the only ones that have been calling for a more open App Store that allows third-party payments.

Microsoft already recognized a need for change. The company announced major alterations to its Windows Store that give developers more freedom — including the ability to accept alternative payments without a penalty.

It’s about time Apple did the same.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.