Apple has announced that it will begrudgingly—and, it hopes, temporarily—comply with orders from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) requiring it to allow dating apps to use alternative payment solutions in addition to its own in-app purchase system.
“Because we do not believe these orders are in our users’ best interests,” Apple says, “we have appealed the ACM’s decision to a higher court. We’re concerned these changes could compromise the user experience, and create new threats to user privacy and data security.”
Apple has to comply with the ACM’s orders in the interim, however, so it’s going to let dating apps in the Netherlands use third-party payment processing systems for in-app purchases. But implementing those systems won’t be as simple as those developers might have liked.
Dating app developers will have to apply for two new entitlements—which determine if a given app is allowed to perform certain actions or access specific data—to use alternative payment solutions. Companies aren’t guaranteed access to those entitlements; they have to apply first.
Because the entitlements are exclusive to the Netherlands, developers using third-party payment processors will have to maintain two versions of their apps. (Apple helpfully advises that “no further action is needed” from devs who decide to stick with its own in-app purchase system.)
“Before considering applying for one of these entitlements,” Apple says, “it’s important to understand that some App Store features that you may use won’t be available to your customers, in part because we cannot validate the security and safety of payments that take place outside of the App Store’s private and secure payment system.”
The company also says that it “will not be able to assist users with refunds, purchase history, subscription management, and other issues encountered when purchasing digital goods and services through these alternative purchasing methods.” That responsibility lies with the devs.
As if that weren’t enough, Apple says that developers using alternative payment solutions will still have to pay it a commission for purchases made within their apps. It hasn’t revealed what that commission will be, but presumably it will be less than the 15-30% it charges via its own system.
Apple couldn’t make it clearer that it’s not happy about letting dating app developers use third-party payment processors. Everything from the tone of the press release to the additional hoops developers have to jump through signals the company’s displeasure with the ACM’s orders.
This still brings developers one step closer to being able to offer in-app purchases without being restricted to Apple’s payments system. That is, of course, provided Apple’s attempt to overturn the ACM’s orders is unsuccessful. Otherwise this is just a lot of hassle for devs over nothing.