Patreon doesn't pay Apple's 30% App Store commission, and its CEO isn't sure why not

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Patreon's CEO Jack Conte has confirmed that the platform doesn't pay the Apple's commission on App Store purchases — and it doesn't have a special deal with the iPhone maker.

Apple takes a 30% (or 15%) cut of app and in-app purchases on the App Store. Patreon, a platform that allows fans to support content creators, doesn't pay that commission. In a recent interview with The Verge, Patreon CEO Jack Conte said that he isn't sure why the company isn't subject to the fees.

Conte confirmed that Patreon doesn't have any sort of special arrangement or contract with Apple. He added that Patreon has to "deal with the App Store policies and review process like anybody else."

He noted that sometimes there are delays in approval of updates, and changes need to be made.

"Why don't we have to pay fees? I think it's because, for whatever reason, we're within Apple's guidelines, and we haven't had to pay fees," Conte added.

Conte recalled one point, about four years prior, when Apple rejected the Patreon app, which led to a conversation between the two companies. Although Patreon's CEO didn't remember the specifics of the situation or what app changes were made, he said the parties eventually "figured it out" and Patreon got its approval.

The Patreon chief executive went on to explain that most of the engagement on the platform occurs on places outside the App Store, such as Discord. He also added that, currently, Patreon funnels users to a web flow for signups.

It isn't clear why Patreon is an exception to Apple's payment processing rules. Apple's guidelines do allow apps to bypass in-app purchases for certain monetary gifts, but that exception doesn't apply to gifts connected with digital content or services — a common benefit given to fans by Patreon creators.

Conte reiterated that only a "tiny portion of pledges" actually occur on the iOS Patreon app.

The Verge also asked about a recent campaign by Fanhouse, which is similar to Patreon, that calls for Apple to decouple its commission policy from payments directly to content creators. Conte said he was aware of Fanhouse's campaign, but didn't add much else.

When asked again to offer clarity about any "direct conversations" with Apple's App Review team, Conte didn't offer much new information.

"Well, we have multiple times as we've gone through the review process. That has come up. I think it came up again a few years ago, and that's when we actually got delayed. And again, I don't remember what the changes were, but we made some changes, and then we passed the review process. And it worked," Conte said.

The Verge said it reached out to Apple to inquire why Patreon isn't subject to its payment processing rules, but has yet to hear back.

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