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Netherlands may fine Apple up to $56M per week over dating-app payments

Apple could face fines as high as $56.4 million a week from the Netherlands’ antitrust authority for failing to comply with an order to let dating-app developers use alternative payments systems. The California-based tech giant has been hit by Dutch authorities with an initial fine of $5.6 million over the sky-high fees that Apple charges app developers through its own payments system, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets said late Monday. Until Apple complies with the order, the company will face additional fines of between $5.6 million and $56.4 million every week, Dutch regulators said. Currently, most developers around the world who distribute their products through Apple’s app store are required to use the company’s own in-app payments system, which charges commissions of up to 30%. These fees are being scrutinized by regulators around the world as a potential unfair abuse of Apple’s market power — and are at the center of the ongoing legal battle between Apple and “Fortnite” developer Epic Games. In the Netherlands, regulators ordered Apple to start let dating app developers use alternative payments systems by Jan. 15. While the antitrust authority said Apple took some steps to comply with the order, such as letting dating app developers express “interest” in using alternative payments systems, it has failed to fully “satisfy the requirements on several points.” “Dating-app providers are still unable to use other payment systems,” the Authority for Consumers and Markets said. Apple also appears to be forcing developers to choose between directing users outside their apps to make payments or adding alternative payment systems within their apps. The company should be required to give all app developers both options rather than making them select just one, the regulator said. “Providers must be able to choose both options,” the regulator added. “ACM has informed Apple that its statements do not satisfy the requirements laid down in the order subject to periodic penalty payments.” The Dutch order came after a complaint from Tinder owner Match Group and only applies to dating apps. Match Group CEO Barry Diller has called Apple’s fees “disgusting” and said his company is forced to fork over $500 million to Apple every year. While $5.6 million Dutch fine may be a drop in the bucket for a $2.6 trillion company, the Netherlands is not the only country to fight Apple’s control over in-app payments. Last year, South Korea passed a law requiring Apple and Google to let all app developers use alternative payments systems. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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