Apple has announced that it is going to allow dating apps in the Dutch App Store to use third-party payment systems. The move comes as Apple tries to comply with orders from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

The ACM acted after an investigation that kicked off back in 2019 when Match Group — the owner of Tinder — complained about Apple’s App Store rules. And while Apple is appealing the ACM’s decision to force third-party payments, it still has to comply. At least for now.

Developers will be able to continue to use Apple’s own payment system, use a third-party one, and or link people out to a third-party system instead.

To comply with orders from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Apple will allow dating app developers in the Netherlands App Store to choose one of the following: 1) continue using Apple’s in-app purchase system, 2) include an in-app link directing customers to the developer’s website to complete a purchase, or 3) use a third party payment system within the app.

Apple, as you can imagine, believes that this will result in a worse experience for customers and is keen to make sure developers are aware of that. Apple wants developers to consider the impact of their actions before making use of the two new entitlements that will make the payment options possible.

Recent orders from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will allow developers of dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands to share additional payment processing options with users. Because we do not believe these orders are in our users’ best interests, 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. In the meantime, we are obligated to make the mandated changes which we’re launching today and we will provide further information shortly.

Apple has also outlined what developers will be giving up if they ditch the App Store payment system — including the fact that all responsibility for any payment issues will fall squarely on the developer’s shoulders and not that of Apple.

It will be your responsibility to assist your users if questions or issues arise stemming from alternative payment options. Because Apple will not be directly aware of purchases made using alternative methods, Apple will not be able to assist users with refunds, payment history, subscription management, and other issues encountered when purchasing digital goods and services through these alternative purchasing methods. You will be responsible for addressing such issues with customers.

It remains to be seen how many developers in this one specific category of one specific App Store will make use of these changes, but it will be very interesting to see how things pan out. The eyes of the world will be watching. Multiple authorities around the world are similarly concerned about Apple’s App Store payment system and the company’s refusal to do exactly what it just did in the Netherlands. Will it be the apocalypse Apple warns of?

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