In response to new regulatory pressures, Apple announced earlier this month that it would allow developers of dating applications in the Netherlands to use alternative payment systems. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets has now published its own press release, saying that Apple’s announcement “fails to satisfy” the requirement set forth by the competition commission.
Apple’s original announcement was relatively vague and didn’t elaborate on many details of its planned changes. Instead, Apple simply said that it will launch two special entitlements for developers looking to use external payments systems – and that it will still charge a commission on these purchases.
In today’s press release, regulators for the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) say that Apple’s announcement is not sufficient. As such, Apple has been slapped with a fine of 5 million euros.
The ACM says that Apple has failed to comply with its regulations on multiple different levels. First and foremost, Apple hasn’t yet launched the option for developers of dating applications in the Netherlands to use alternative payment systems. Instead, developers can simply “express their interest” in learning more once the new entitlements are available.
But in addition to Apple’s slow response, the ACM says there are also issues with the announcement itself:
In addition, Apple has raised several barriers for dating-app providers to the use of third-party payment systems. That, too, is at odds with ACM’s requirements. For example, Apple seemingly forces app providers to make a choice: either refer to payment systems outside of the app or to an alternative payment system. That is not allowed. Providers must be able to choose both options.
ACM regulators say that they have informed Apple that its announcement does not satisfy the requirements. If Apple fails to comply, the ACM says it will “have to pay each week a penalty payment of 5 million euros up to a maximum of 50 million euros.”
The ACM’s complaint that Apple hasn’t acted fast enough to implement these requirements is a bit far-fetched. Changes like these take time, particularly at large companies like Apple where there are so many moving parts.
Regardless of that aspect of the complaint, however, it’s clear that the ACM isn’t going to let Apple off easy here. The company’s initial announcement made it clear that developers who wish to adopt third-party in-app payment options would have to jump through a number of different hoops in order to do so. And of course, Apple still plans to charge a commission on these purchases.
Apple will have to provide more details on its plans for dating apps in the Netherlands sooner rather than later to avoid continued fines. As we’ve said before, this situation, including the commission Apple still plans to collect, could provide a look at how Apple could respond to antitrust concerns in other countries as well
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