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

Apple announced on Friday that it has once again updated the rules on how Dutch dating apps can use third-party payment systems, after the company had “productive talks with the Dutch Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM).” The updated rules give developers more flexibility as to which payment systems they use, change the language users see when they pay, and remove other restrictions that the previous rules have put in place.

Although the rules are not far-reaching (again, they only apply to Dutch dating apps), they show what Apple is willing to do to comply with government regulations ̵[ads1]1; which they can face much more of when the EU and the US equip themselves. up to fight technology monopolies, and potentially even force the company to drop the iPhone’s Lightning port.

In December, ACM announced a ruling that Apple had to allow dating apps to 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 such as Tinder, and OkCupid. Since then, Apple has proposed a number of solutions to comply with the order, which the regulator has said are not good enough. In May, ACM said that Apple’s latest rules, those before the Friday update, were improvements over previous ideas, but that they still did not comply with Dutch and European laws.

There has been increasing pressure for Apple to comply with this: even while the company is working on changes, it has received tens of millions of euros in fines.

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

Originally, the proposed language was:

This app does not support the App Store payment system.

All purchases in this app will be managed by the developer «». You will no longer trade with Apple. Your stored payment method from the App Store and related features, such as subscription management and refund requests, will not be available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of any transactions made with this developer.

Now it says:

Your payment will be managed by the developer. You will no longer trade with Apple.

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

The options users will see on the prompt are also different. Before, they saw the buttons to “Continue” or “Cancel.” They are replaced with a button that says “I understand.” The messages users will see if the developer disconnects them from the app (to a third-party payment page) have also been rewritten in the same way.

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

The old rules, which you can read from this online archive here, 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:

  • “Offers and diversity of payment methods (support for credit cards, debit cards, etc.)”
  • Value-adding services such as administration and handling of transaction tax
  • Guidelines for payment security and privacy that “exceed compliance with the payment card industry at level 1”

The rules also dictated how reliable the payment processor had to be, and said that it had 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 the things that “meet the Level 1 Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance for handling credit and debit card data” and “set all prices” for sales of digital goods and services to users in the Netherlands in euro currency. »

Apple also says it has updated the structure of third-party payment commissions. The previous rules made it seem as if developers of Dutch dating apps had to pay 27 percent commission on third-party transactions anyway. Although there is a three percent discount from Apple’s standard 30 percent cut in in-app purchases, having to pay 27 percent will be a significant increase from the 15 percent paid by developers in the App Store Small Business Program, or from the 15 percent as developers pay out of their recurring subscription revenue after users have maintained the subscription for a year.

Now Apple says it offers a three percent discount when you go through a third-party payment processor, period – if you would have paid Apple 30 percent, you now pay 27, and if you would have paid 15 percent, you pay 12. Even if one so small discount is still a clear message from Apple that developers just should not bother to look elsewhere (especially given the extra work involved, and the fact that third-party payment systems will have their own fees), the change means at least that smaller developers will not pay the iPhone manufacturer a higher percentage if they choose to go to a third party.

ACM does not appear to have taken issue with Apple’s commission structure in its previous refusals of the company’s proposal.

In its Friday news release, Apple makes it clear that they are not particularly happy about the situation they are in. “Because Apple is committed to constructive cooperation with regulators, we are making the additional changes at the request of ACM,” the company said, that some of the changes “are in the best interests of users’ privacy or data security.” The company also reiterates that it disagrees with the original order and anchors it.

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