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Match Group celebrates Dutch court decision to curb in-app Apple payments

October 13, 2021, 4:24 PM UTC

The head of the world’s largest online dating service celebrated recently when a court in the Netherlands found Apple’s app-store payment policies, which require app developers to pay up to 30% in commissions on in-app purchases, to be uncompetitive and ordered the tech giant to make changes.

Match Group’s Shar Dubey, who leads the company behind online matchmaking services Tinder, Match.com, Hinge, and OkCupid, has long argued the in-app payment policies that force app developers to exclusively use these payment systems were unfair.

Apple’s payment design “ought to come with some responsibility and enacting policies and practices that are fair and equitable,” Dubey said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. But with in-app payments, “that’s not how it’s worked out.”

Apple’s in-store payment policies, which take commissions that range between 15% and 30%, have long drawn complaints from app developers, who first filed their complaint to the Dutch court in 2019. The case was later whittled down to just cover dating apps, according to Reuters.

The majority of Match Group’s app users, including 98% of Tinder users, download them from either the Apple or Google app stores—which Dubey refers to as the “gatekeepers of the Internet.” And the commission creamed off the top has forced Match Group to increase prices for consumers and has prevented it from making investments in the business. This year alone, Match Group expects to pay transaction fees of around $500 million to Apple and Google; it is currently looking to build an alternative-payment option.

The Dutch court is not the only place app developers have fought back against Apple practices they characterize as an abuse of its dominant market position.

Before the court decision in the Netherlands, similar rulings were made in South Korea, which enacted a law that banned app store operators from forcing developers to use their official payment systems, and in the U.S., where Epic Games won an appeal ordering Apple to make it easier to promote alternative payment systems. (Plaintiff Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, is appealing that decision on the grounds that it does not go far enough.)

“The thing that I want to call out,” Dubey said, “if the whole world is challenging this, someone at Apple has to take a step back and say, ‘Does this still feel like the right thing to do?’”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that 98% of Match Group app users download those apps from either the Apple or Google app stores. In fact that statistic applies only to Tinder app users.

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