Apple Must Let Dating Apps Offer Other Pay Options in App Store

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Image for article titled Apple Must Let Dating Apps Offer Alternative Payment Options in the App Store, Dutch Regulator Says

Illustration: Chris Delmas / AFP (Getty Images)

Apple’s App Store payment policy was just dealt another blow in the Netherlands, where the Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM, the country’s top competition regulator, determined the rules violated Dutch competition law by not allowing dating apps to offer users alternative payment options.

In a decision published on Christmas Eve, the ACM said the conditions that apply to dating app providers—which are the same applied to all developers—were unreasonable. It ordered Apple to rectify its policy and allow dating app developers to offer users other payment options—inside and outside the app. If Apple doesn’t comply with the regulator’s decision within two months, it could face a fine of up to $56.5 million.

The ACM originally started looking into Apple’s in-app payment policy in 2019, according to Reuters, over concerns that it was abusing its dominant position in the market. The company requires developers to use its in-app payment system—prohibiting them from linking or directing users to alternative payment methods—and takes a cut of between 15% and 30% of every purchase. However, over the course of the investigation, the scope was reduced to focus on dating apps.

One of the biggest players in the dating app sector, Match Group, which owns several popular dating apps including Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Hinge, submitted a complaint to the ACM over Apple’s App Store rules, Reuters reported. Match Group alleged that Apple’s policies were impeding its direct communication with its customers about payments.

In the announcement of the ACM decision, Martijn Snoep, the regulator’s board chairman, said that protecting people and businesses against abuse of market power in the digital economy was one of the regulator’s most important duties.

“Some app providers are dependent on Apple’s App Store, and Apple takes advantage of that dependency. Apple has special responsibilities because of its dominant position,” Snoep said in a statement. “That is why Apple needs to take seriously the interests of app providers too, and set reasonable conditions. That is what we are…

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