Apple Refuses to Comply with Dutch Competition Authority Order Over App Payment Store Practices, Incurs Further Penalties

Monday marked the sixth consecutive week of fines levied by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) against Apple Inc. for failing to comply with an antitrust order concerning how dating apps sold in its iOS App Store may collect payment. On Monday, an article by TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas reported that Apple is now responsible for €30 million out of a possible maximum of €50 million.

As previously reported, the ACM took issue with Apple’s refusal to permit dating apps to offer payment systems other than Apple’s and actions it took to discourage dating app providers from using third-party payment systems. The ACM explains that this is at odds with its requirements, first laid out in an August 2021 order and later confirmed in a December 2021 court decision.

TechCrunch reported that the ACM has awaited reasonable proposals from Apple as to how it will comply with the order. To date, Apple’s proffers have not passed muster. In early February, Apple offered to charge dating-app providers a 27% commission, representing 3% less than its standard 30% take on App Store and in-app purchases, TechCrunch reported.

The ACM reportedly criticized another prior proposal as “unreasonable,” given its view that Apple persists in creating too many obstacles for dating app providers that wish to use their own payment systems. “Apple’s response to the ACM complaint has shown it’s not willing to simply abandon a lucrative revenue stream just because a regulator decides it’s unfair — and will instead work against that by reconfiguring its operations to find a new way to extract much the same fee,” the article commented.

The news outlet noted that even the maximum €50 million fine is a mere slap on the wrist for Apple, but possibly forewarns of larger fines, should the European Union and other nations decide to enact and enforce new regulations.

Meanwhile, domestic court battles rage over Apple’s and Google’s respective command of iOS and Android operating system application distribution and therewith, price control. Epic Games’ suit against Apple is on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, while the state attorneys general’s case concerning Android app payment and distribution is heading towards discovery following Google’s November-filed answer to the states’ amended pleading.