Apple lets Dutch dating apps use other payment options within existing apps

To end the bickering with Dutch regulators that has lasted for months, Apple today published a new version of its App Store rules that allow local dating apps to accept payments through third-party processors. Until now, the proposals of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) were not satisfied with its proposals to comply with a December ruling making the change mandatory and Apple was fined €50 million.

Of the three major changes, the one that stands out is Apple specifying that any app that chooses to use a third-party payment processor must create and use a separate binary from its existing app. According to Apple, “this change means that developers can include both rights in their existing dating app, but must limit their use to the app on the Dutch storefront and on devices running iOS or iPadOS.” It also included more details about evaluating non-Apple payment system providers and examples for the pages that apps should present to customers to inform them that they are about to interact with a non-Apple payment service.

Example screen alternative payment processor

Image: Apple

The change won’t come voluntarily, though, as Apple’s developer notice still says, “We disagree with ACM’s original order and are appealing it.” In the meantime, Apple will still insist on collecting a 27 percent commission on transactions for apps that link or use a third-party payment system.

In accordance with ACM’s order, dating apps that have the right to link to or use a third-party in-app payment provider pay Apple a commission on transactions. Apple charges a 27% commission on the price paid by the user, excluding VAT. This is a reduced rate, excluding value related to payment processing and related activities. Developers are responsible for collecting and remitting all applicable taxes, such as Dutch Value Added Tax (VAT), for sales processed by a third-party payment provider.

Developers using these rights must provide a report to Apple detailing any sale of digital goods and content facilitated through the App Store. This report must be provided monthly within 15 calendar days of the end of Apple’s fiscal month. View a sample report to learn more about the details to include in the report. Eligible developers will be invoiced based on the reporting and must submit payment to Apple for the amount invoiced within 45 days of the end of Apple’s fiscal month. In the future, if Apple develops technical solutions to facilitate reporting, developers will have to adopt such technologies.

The ACM said on Monday that the next step is to submit the policy to ‘market parties’ for consultation. If they accept the terms, Apple can prevent an escalation of fines.

This dispute and protest against policy change is happening as Apple and Google, in particular, are gaining more control over the control they exercise over apps and payments within their ecosystems. The EU’s Digital Markets Act may require support for third-party payment processors in all apps after it goes into effect this fall, while South Korea recently passed a similar law.

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