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Netherlands watchdog slaps Apple with recurring fine of €5 million for anti competition

Netherlands watchdog slaps Apple with recurring fine of €5 million for anti competition
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
25 Jan, 2022
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Netherlands' consumer watchdog Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has slapped Apple with a recurring fine of €5 million (approx $5.6 million) for its policy of not allowing dating app providers the option to use an alternate payment system, despite being ordered to do so in August 2021. 

If Apple fails to comply with the order, it will have to pay each week a penalty of €5 million up to a maximum of €50 million, ACM said in a statement.

The regulator had pulled Apple last year over this and asked them to update their payment mechanism policy that restricts app developers from offering any other payment system other than Apple's. 

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Though Apple had responded to the watchdog's order and is said to have made some changes, ACM said that has failed to satisfy the requirements on several points and has created several barriers for app providers from using alternative billing systems.

Also read: Apple may launch iPhone SE and iPad Air in March-April

According to ACM, Apple, in its updated policy, has asked app providers to either refer to payment systems outside of the app or to an alternative payment system. "Providers must be able to choose both options," the watchdog reiterated. 

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"Apple has failed to adjust its conditions, as a result of which dating-app providers are still unable to use other payment systems. At the moment, dating-app providers can merely express their interest," the watchdog said.  

Apple's policy of restricting app providers from using third party payment has been called anti-competitive by regulators in several countries including India. In December 2021, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had initiated a probe into Apple's App Store business model. 

Early this week, Apple had provided some relief to app providers by extending the deadline for implementing the guidelines 3.1.1 on in-app purchases to June 30 2022. The guideline requires app providers to use Apple’s in-app purchase instead of using third party own payment mechanisms or referring external links for offering a subscription, in-game currencies or premium content in the app. 

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Restricting app providers to its own payment system allows Apple to charge the high App Store commission fee that starts at 15% and goes up to 30% in some instances.