Apple must make changes to in-app payment requirement, Dutch antitrust agency says

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Amsterdam legislators have declared that Apple requiring developers to use its in-app payment service in the App Store is anti-competitive, and changes must be made.

The declaration comes two years after an examination started. Initially, it was a wider examination, but along the way it was cut down and focused mainly on dating market apps, spawned by a complaint from Match.com's parent group.

According to a report from Reuters on Thursday, The Netherlands' Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) told Apple of its decision in September. Reportedly, there is no fine associated with the behavior, but Apple must make changes to the in-app payment service.

The investigation focus was on the in-app payment system and how Apple charges commissions of between 15% and 30%. Speaking at the start of the investigation in 2019, then-ACM board member Henk Don said that the authority had received multiple complaints.

"To a large degree, app providers depend on Apple and Google for offering apps to users," Don said. "ACM has received indications from app providers, which seem to indicate that Apple abuses its position in the App Store. That is why ACM sees sufficient reason for launching a follow-up investigation, on the basis of competition law."

ACM declined to comment on the matter to Reuters, but did say that the ruling was under "legal review."

The decision follows South Korea's law enacted to prevent similar behavior by App Store holders.

It also follows Judge Gonzales' ruling in the Epic vs. Apple case, where she stopped short of mandating third-party payment processors in-app. Instead, she ruled that developers could steer users to external payment methods. It remains to be seen how Apple will implement this, as it has until late December to do so.

The same Dutch authorities have launched an antitrust investigation into technology firms which limit access to NFC services in phones. Apple was not named in the initial description of this investigation, but it appears to follow criticism of how the company refuses to allow competitors access to its Apple Pay system.