Apple threw away $52m over Dutch App Store rules but no more fines will come

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple will not face more fines over the requirement for Dutch dating apps to be allowed to use third-party payment systems.
  • Apple has already paid $52 million in fines since January 2022.
  • Dutch dating apps can now use other payment systems, not just Apple's.

Apple will not have to pay any more fines to the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) after it confirmed that the iPhone-maker has finally complied with its App Store requirements. But the company has already paid $52 million in fines to get to this point.

The whole affair stemmed from an ACM order that required Apple allow dating apps in the Dutch App Store to use payment methods other than Apple's, something that the company dragged its feet on but ultimately complied with. The ACM accused Apple of abusing its position, taking a percentage of all sales and subscriptions as a result.

Dating-app providers must be allowed to choose a method of payment in their apps and to have the ability to refer customers to their own websites for payment. Dating-app providers cannot be forced to use Apple's payment method or else be barred from the App Store. That is not allowed under European and Dutch competition rules. Abuse of dominance drives up the price, reduces the quality of products and services, and restricts innovation.

Apple began paying weekly fines in January as it worked to make the technical changes required to allow third-party payments via the App Store. It didn't do so willingly, however, and was accused of making the process more difficult than it needed to be. Apple, for its part, thought it had done enough. Apple subsequently removed its requirement that Dutch dating apps submit two distinct binaries for review — one with third-party payments and one without.

However, the ACM has now confirmed that Apple now complies with its requirements and, as a result, will not face any more fines or orders — it had already paid the maximum €50 million in fines, but a new order would have reset the count.

In January 2022, the periodic penalty payments started to kick in, and went up to the maximum of 50 million euros. That is why Apple must pay a total penalty of 50 million euros. Apple now complies with the rules. That is why ACM no longer needs to impose a new order subject to periodic penalty payments. Over the past few months, ACM had collected information from dating-app providers and independent experts before its assessment that Apple complied with the order.

Apple recently shared more details about developer requirements for its StoreKit External Entitlement that would allow third-party payment systems to be used in apps. That update also included one more swipe at the ACM with Apple maintaining that it believes allowing third-party payments will impact users' privacy.

We don't believe some of these changes are in the best interests of our users' privacy or data security. Because Apple is committed to constructive engagement with regulators, we're making the additional changes at the ACM's request. As we've previously said, we disagree with the ACM's original order and are appealing it.

It's important to note that these changes only apply to the Dutch App Store and even then, only to dating apps. All other apps, and all apps internationally, must continue to use the App Store payment systems as before.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.