Apple gets Dutch antitrust order to open up app payments

Apple Inc. was ordered by the Dutch antitrust authority to allow dating apps to use other payment systems or face a fine of as much as 50 million euros ($56 million).

Apple imposes “unreasonable conditions” by not allowing a free choice for app payments besides Apple’s in-app purchases, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets said in a press release. It must make changes by Jan. 15 or face a fine of 5 million euros a week, with a total limit of 50 million euros.

The iPhone maker’s refusal to let app developers steer customers to other ways of paying has been targeted by lawsuits and antitrust investigations across the world. Apple charges a commission of as much as 30% on some app subscriptions, although the U.S. firm reduced the fees for smaller developers last year. 

In September Apple was ordered by a U.S. District Judge to give developers the option of bypassing its commission on in-app purchases, including letting iOS apps use “buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing methods” other than Apple’s payment system. Apple earlier this month won a reprieve to the ruling.

The EU also stepped up a case over payment curbs earlier this year and the U.K. is also looking at in-app purchase rules.

“Some app providers are dependent on Apple’s App Store, and Apple takes advantage of that dependency,” said Martijn Snoep, the head of the Dutch authority. “Apple needs to take seriously the interests of app providers too, and set reasonable conditions.”

Apple disagrees with the order and has filed a legal challenge, the company said in an emailed statement. 

The Cupertino, California-based company “has invested tremendous resources helping developers of dating apps reach customers and thrive on the App Store, and has the right under EU and Dutch law to charge developers of these apps a fee for all the services and technologies Apple provides them.”

The Dutch authority initially ruled against Apple in August but was unable to publish its decision after Apple challenged it at court. A Friday court ruling allowed the authority to go public.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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