iPhone apps distributed in South Korea can for the first time settle in-app purchases directly themselves – instead of just using the Apple payment interface that is otherwise required. Developers can now request permission for their apps from Apple, the company announced on Thursday. The opening did not take place voluntarily: a new law stipulates that major app store operators in South Korea can no longer be forced to use the platform operator’s in-app purchase interface.
26 percent of the purchase price goes to Apple
The payment interface is also linked to the commission that Apple and Google charge for every in-app purchase of digital content and automatically withhold up to 30 percent of the net price. Apple had already emphasized in previous proceedings – especially in the legal dispute with Epic Games – that it had a claim to ownership of all in-app purchases. The group is now also insisting on this in South Korea: app providers have to pay 26 percent commission to Apple for directly billed purchases, as the company explained. The manufacturer follows Google’s new commission model for South Korea exactly, where four percentage points have also been removed from the commission.
For most developers, the effort involved in implementing direct payment is unlikely to pay off, especially since users first have to accept a warning before making a purchase. In South Korea, Apple also only allows four specific payment service providers for direct payments.
App payment monopoly could also fall in Europe and the USA
A dispute with the regulatory authority Korea Communications Commission could break out over the further estimated commission: If the platform operators make it too difficult and uncomfortable for app developers to accept direct payments, this would run counter to the aim of the law, the regulators said in the spring.
South Korea is thus the first country to break the previous app payment monopoly of the major platform operators. A similar requirement was recently enforced in the Netherlands, but it only applies to dating apps – and there, too, Apple estimates a 27 percent commission on in-app purchases. Similar efforts are being made by regulatory authorities in other regions, and a corresponding rule is also to be laid down in Europe and the USA with the Digital Markets Act and the Open App Markets Act. In the case of Apple alone, the amounts involved are in the billions: last year, the commissions brought Apple sales estimated at over 20 billion US dollars.
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