Apple is giving ground in its App Store fight with Dutch regulators and Tinder


Apple announced Friday that it has once again updated its rules on how Dutch dating apps can use third-party payment systems, after the company had “productive conversations with the Dutch Authority for Consumers and markets (ACM)”. The updated rules giving developers more flexibility in which payment systems they use, changing the language users see when they go to pay, and removing other restrictions that previous rules put in place.

Although the rules aren’t extensive (again, they only apply to Dutch dating apps), they do show what Apple is willing to do to comply with government regulation — which it could be. faced much more than EU and US gear to fight tech monopolies, and maybe even force the company to ditch the iPhone’s Lightning port.

In December, the ACM announced a ruling that Apple must let dating apps use payment services in addition to the one built into iOS, after the regulator received a complaint from Match Group, the company behind dating services like Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid. Since then, Apple has offered a variety of solutions to comply with the order, which the regulator says aren’t good enough. In May, the ACM said Apple’s most recent rules, those before Friday’s update, were improvements over its past ideas, but still failed to comply with the laws. Dutch and European.

There has been growing pressure for Apple to comply: even though the company is working on changes, it is racking up tens of millions of euros in fines.

The changes Apple announced on Friday are a significant update to its previous proposal, which it released in March. The rules still require developers to show users a message before they see the third-party payment screen, which can be either in-app or on an external website, but the new language Apple is offering is less likely to scare away potential customers in my opinion.

Originally, the proposed wording read as follows:

This application does not support the payment system of the App Store.

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

Now it reads:

Your payment will be handled by the developer. You will no longer transact with Apple.

All purchases in this app will be processed by a service provider selected by developer “developerName”. The developer will be responsible for 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 will not be available.

The options that users will see when prompted are also different. Before, they saw buttons for “Continue” or “Cancel”. These have been replaced with a button that says “I understand”. The messages users will see if the developer links them outside of the app (to a third-party payment site) have also been rewritten in the same spirit.

Under Apple’s new rules, developers also won’t have to choose between an in-app third-party payment or an external payment link; they can use both if they wish, which was not the case before. They’ll also be able to show how much something will cost – Apple removed a rule saying a link to an external payment couldn’t include “the price of items available on the website you own or are responsible for”.

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

  • “Offer and diversity of means of payment (support for credit cards, debit cards, etc.)”
  • Value-added services such as transaction tax management and processing
  • Payment security and privacy policies that “exceed payment card industry Level 1 compliance”

The rules also dictated the reliability of the payment processor, stating that it had to have 99.9% uptime and respond to requests within 300 milliseconds. Apple still has some requirements for third-party payment processors, but they seem to be much broader — now it’s things like “meets Payment Card Industry (PCI) Tier 1 compliance for processing credit and debit card data” and “names all prices for the sale of digital goods and services to users in the Netherlands in the currency euro.

Apple also says it has updated the commission structure on third-party payments. Previous rules made it look like Dutch dating app developers would have to pay a 27% commission on third-party transactions no matter what. Although this is a 3% reduction from Apple’s standard 30% discount on in-app purchases, having to pay 27% would represent a significant increase from the 15% that developers of the App Store Small Business program pay, or the 15% that developers pay. pay their recurring subscription revenue after users have maintained their subscription for one year.

Now Apple says it offers a 3% discount when you go through a third-party payment processor, period – if you would have paid Apple 30%, you would now pay 27, and if you would have paid 15 percent, you’ll pay 12. While such a small discount is still a clear message from Apple that developers simply shouldn’t bother looking elsewhere (especially considering the extra work involved and the fact that third-party payment systems will have their own costs), the change at least means that smaller developers won’t pay a higher percentage to the iPhone maker if they choose to go through a third party.

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

In his friday news article, Apple makes it clear that it is not particularly happy with the situation in which it finds itself. I don’t believe that some of the changes “are in the best interest of our users’ privacy or data security.” The company also reiterates that it disagrees with the original order and is appealing.

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