Apple will allow dating app developers in the Netherlands to offer alternative payment options in line with the Dutch regulator’s ruling, according to a report by Bloomberg. This will allow dating apps — and only dating apps — to be distributed in the country to avoid Apple’s 15 to 30 percent commission on in-app purchases.
In a notice to developers on its site, Apple explains that it is introducing two new optional “permissions” or specific app capabilities that allow developers to add third-party payment processors for dating apps in the Netherlands. Dating app developers can direct customers to a website to complete their purchase or add a third-party payment service to the app. However, if developers choose to reject Apple’s payment service in favor of an alternative, Apple says it won’t be able to help users with refunds, subscription management, or payment issues.
There’s another, more concerning caveat, though: developers looking to add alternative payment options will have to create a separate version of the dating app that’s only available in the Netherlands, as stated on a developer support page. Apple will still charge dating apps a commission for using third-party payment processors. “Dating apps that are given the right to link or use a third-party in-app payment provider will pay Apple a commission on transactions,” Apple writes. “More information about all aspects of the claims will be forthcoming soon.”
Apple has also appealed against the decision of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). “Because we do not believe that these orders are in the best interests of our users, we have appealed the decision of the ACM in a higher court,” Apple explains. “We are concerned that these changes could compromise the user experience and pose new threats to users’ privacy and data security. In the meantime, we are committed to making the mandatory changes that we are launching today and we will provide more information shortly.”
In December, the ACM ruled that Apple allows dating apps in the country to offer third-party payment services, and if the company does not do so by January 15, it risks a fine of 5 million euros per week. The ACM began an investigation into Apple’s payment rules in 2019 and focused specifically on dating apps following a complaint from Match Group, owner of popular online dating services Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge.
Apple’s payment policies have sparked controversy worldwide, with South Korea enacting legislation requiring the company to allow third-party in-app payment services. The restriction on alternative payment services is also the catalyst behind the ongoing battle between Epic Games and Apple — a court order forcing Apple to allow third-party payment options was just put on hold after an appeal from Apple. Last year, Apple made a small compromise, agreeing to let “reader” apps direct customers to external sites for subscriptions.
Update January 15, 4:50 PM ET: Clarification added that Apple will require developers to create a separate app binary specific to the Netherlands in order to use third-party payment services, and that it will still charge commission for transactions that use third-party payment processors.