In order to comply with a ruling from The Netherlands authorities, late on Friday Apple announced that it would allow developers of dating apps to offer alternative payments systems other than Apple’s In-App Purchase system, thereby circumventing Apple’s traditional 15-30% IAP cut. However, Apple will still charge a commission on these purchases regardless (details yet to be disclosed).
However, implementing this will not be straightforward. Developers will need to create and maintain a completely separate app binary which includes special entitlements, and is only made available in the Netherlands App Store.
Earlier this week, Apple said it would allow third-party payment systems in Korea but the company would still collect a commission on all transactions. Apple also says that these dating apps will have to pay Apple a commission on these transactions.
To deploy an App Store app with an external payment system included, apps must apply for one of two special new entitlements; the StoreKit External Purchase Entitlement or the StoreKit External Link Entitlement. As part of requesting the entitlement, applications must declare what payment processor they intend to use, purchase support URLs, and other information.
The former entitlement allows an app to include an integrated payment system inside the application, and the latter allows the app to include a link to a website to a complete a purchase. As of right now, Apple will only grant these entitlements for dating apps distributed in the Netherlands.
Clearly, Apple is doing the minimum it can to comply with the ruling from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets. It has already said it is appealing the decision on customer safety grounds. Apple said that any transactions made with the alternative payments system will mean it cannot help customers with refunds, subscription management, payment history and other billing issues.
Maintaining a wholly separate app binary for one region is not convenient. This obstacle is one way Apple will discourage developers from going down this route; they can avoid all of the inconvenience by continuing to offer Apple In-App Purchase only. Depending on the commission rate Apple sets, it may not be worth it for a third-party developer to offer alternative payment systems at all.
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