Apple Accrues 50 Million Euros in Fines over Dutch Dating Apps Payment Dispute

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 28 Mar 2022

App Store Unsplash

Today, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands slapped Apple with its tenth fine of 5 million euros ($5.5 million) since the iPhone maker has failed to provide dating app developers in the country a way to offer users alternative in-app payment systems.

The Dutch antitrust regulator’s rules went into effect in January, and Apple has consistently received a 5 million euro fine for every week it has delayed compliance with the legislation. The company did submit plans to comply with the ACM’s ruling, but the regulator dismissed them, citing various issues with the terms and conditions mentioned.

The ACM can levy a maximum fine of 50 million euros, which it already has. In fact, at a recent meeting, The European Union’s head of digital policy, Margrethe Vestager, said Apple would rather cough up 50 million euros in “periodic fines” than alter its App Store policies in favor of Dutch dating app developers.

The Dutch ruling requires Apple to allow dating app developers in the country to use third-party payment systems. However, Apple would have to let go of the 30 percent commission it earns from in-app purchases (IAPs). The company initially proposed a plan where developers could use third-party billing systems for IAPs if they submitted separate app binaries for the Dutch market. However, this would entail a lot of work for developers, and Apple would still charge a 27 percent commission on the earnings through payments processed by third parties. It doesn’t benefit developers because the third-party systems would also charge a fee hovering in the neighborhood of 1 to 3 percent. Apple’s reluctance to part with the 30 percent commission and the developers’ chagrin didn’t go unnoticed.

Now that the ACM has reached the 50 million euro ceiling for its fine, it remains to be seen how the antitrust authority will ensure Apple’s compliance. In its announcement of the tenth fine, the authority threatens:

“If ACM comes to the conclusion that Apple does not meet the requirements, ACM may impose another order subject to periodic penalty payments (with possibly higher penalties this time around) in order to stimulate Apple to comply with the order.”

Do you think the ACM will fine Apple until it complies, or collect the accumulated fine and let the company continue business as usual? Please share your thoughts with us.