Apple gives up ground in App Store battle with Dutch regulators and Tinder

Apple announced on Friday that it has updated its rules on how Dutch dating apps can use third-party payment systems after the company “had productive discussions with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM)”. The updated rules give developers more flexibility over which payment systems they use, change the language users see when they pay, and remove other restrictions that the previous rules had in place.

While the rules aren’t far-reaching (again, they only apply to Dutch dating apps), they do show what Apple is willing to do to comply with government regulations — which it could face a lot more if the EU and the US are adapting to fight tech monopolies and possibly even force the company to ditch the iPhone’s Lightning port.

In December, the ACM announced a ruling requiring Apple to allow dating apps to be used in addition to payment services built into iOS, after the regulator received a complaint from Match Group, the company behind dating services such as Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid. Since then, Apple has proposed several solutions to fulfill the order, which the regulator says are not good enough. In May, ACM said Apple’s most recent rules, those prior to Friday’s update, were improvements over previous ideas, but still failed to comply with Dutch and European legislation.

There is mounting pressure on Apple to comply: even as the company works on change, it is already being fined tens of millions of dollars.

The changes Apple announced on Friday are an important update to the earlier proposal, which was published in March. The rules still prevent developers from showing users a message before seeing the third-party payment screen, which can be in the app or on a third-party website, but Apple’s new proposed language is less of a shock to me. off potential customers. opinion.

Originally the proposed language was:

This app does not support the App Store payment system.

All purchases in this app are controlled by the developer’† You no longer transact with Apple. Your saved App Store payment method and related features, such as subscription management and refund requests, are not available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of transactions with this developer.

Now it says:

Your payment is managed by the developer. You no longer transact with Apple.

All purchases in this app are processed by a service provider selected by the developer “developerName”. The developer is responsible for the payment methods and related features such as subscriptions and refunds. App Store features, such as your saved App Store payment method, subscription management, and refund requests are not available.

The options that users see at the prompt are also different. Previously they saw buttons for ‘Continue’ or ‘Cancel’. They have been replaced by a button that reads ‘I understand’. The messages that users will see if the developer links them from the app (to a third-party payment site) have also been rewritten in the same vein.

Also, under Apple’s new rules, developers don’t have to choose between a third-party in-app payment or an external payment link; they can use both if they want, which was not the case before. They can also show how much something will cost – Apple removed a rule that says a link to an external payment cannot contain “the price of items available on the website that you own or are responsible for”.

The old rules, which you can read here in this web archive, had specific requirements for third-party payment processors if a developer wanted to use their services in their app. Before Friday’s changes, developers had to find a processor that supported things like:

  • “Payment method offering and diversity (support for credit cards, debit cards, etc.)”
  • Value-added services, such as transaction tax management and settlement
  • Payment Security and Privacy Policy That “Exceeds Level 1 Payment Card Industry Compliance”

The rules also dictated how reliable the payment processor had to be, which was to have 99.9 percent availability and respond to requests within 300 milliseconds. Apple still has some requirements for third-party payment processors, but they seem to be significantly broader – now it’s things like “meets Level 1 Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance for credit and debit card data processing” and “lists all prices for the sale of digital goods and services to users in the Netherlands in the euro currency.”

Apple also says it has updated its commission structure for third-party payments. The previous rules made it seem like Dutch dating app developers would have to pay a 27 percent commission on third-party transactions, no matter what. While that’s a three percent discount from Apple’s standard 30 percent discount on in-app purchases, having to pay 27 percent would be a significant increase over the 15 percent paid by developers in the App Store Small Business program. or of the 15 percent that developers pay out of their recurring subscription revenue after users keep their subscription for a year.

Now Apple says it’s offering a three percent discount if you use a third-party payment processor, period – if you paid Apple 30 percent, you’re now paying 27, and if you’d paid 15 percent, you’re paying 12. n small discount still a clear message from Apple is that developers shouldn’t bother looking elsewhere (especially given the extra work and the fact that third-party payment systems cost their own), at least the change means that smaller developers the iPhone maker will not pay a higher percentage if they choose to go with a third party.

The ACM does not appear to object to Apple’s commission structure in its previous rebuttals to the company’s proposals.

In Friday’s news release, Apple makes it clear that it is not particularly happy with the situation it finds itself in. “As Apple is committed to constructively working with regulators, we are making the additional changes at the request of ACM,” the company says, but also that it does not believe that some of the changes “are in the best interests of the privacy or data security of Apple.” our users”. The company also reiterates that it disagrees with the original order and is appealing it.

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