Apple Must Let Dating Apps Bypass Payment Platform, Dutch Regulator Says

A regulator in the Netherlands has ordered Apple to allow dating app developers to use non-Apple payment platforms, and to provide users with in-app notifications about non-Apple payment options.

“Some app providers are dependent on Apple’s App Store, and Apple takes advantage of that dependency,” Martijn Snoep, chairman of the board of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, stated late last week. “Apple has special responsibilities because of its dominant position. That is why Apple needs to take seriously the interests of app providers too, and set reasonable conditions,” Snoep added.

The regulator gave Apple two months to comply with the order, after which the company will face fines of around $5.7 million a week, with a maximum of around $57 million.

“Apple abuses its dominant position by imposing unreasonable contractual conditions on dating-app providers,” the Authority for Consumers and Markets said in a 4-page summary of its decision.

The agency added that Apple's system doesn't allow providers to contact users directly for “customer service” purposes.

“Dating-app providers are unable to handle any issues regarding invoicing, cancellations, and refunds directly with their customers because they do not have access to the necessary data,” the regulator stated. “In addition, it becomes much harder for dating-app providers to do background checks, which is of significant importance to dating-app providers, considering safety, age checks, and malevolent users.”

In the U.S., a federal district court judge in California recently ordered Apple to allow all developers to use in-app buttons or links to point consumers to outside payment options.

Earlier this month, a federal appellate panel stayed the order, stating Apple had raised “serious questions” about the basis for the injunction, and also showed that the injunction could subject the company to “irreparable harm.”

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