Apple is facing down the barrel of additional fines in the Netherlands, after the Dutch antitrust watchdog rejected its latest compromise offer.

An official at the Dutch antitrust watchdog ACM (Authority for Consumers and Markets) told Reuters on Friday that Apple is still not fully complying with an order to open its App Store to rival forms of payment for dating apps in the Netherlands.

It comes after the watchdog in December made the decision that Apple must allow some app developers to use alternative payment systems. Apple disagreed and said it would appeal.

Dutch fines

In 2019 the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) had begun an investigation into Apple’s practice of requiring app developers to use in-app payment systems and pay a commission of 15 to 30 percent.

The system has also come under scrutiny from other regulators around the world.

The Dutch investigation was later reduced in scope to focus on dating apps, including those of Match Group, which operates Tinder, and OkCupid.

It then ordered Apple to adjust the “unreasonable” terms in its App Store for dating app providers, allowing them to use alternative payment systems.

Apple was given until 15 January to do so, and faced a fine of 5 million euros (£4m) per week, up to a maximum of 50 million euros if it fails to comply.

Since that time, the ACM has been levying weekly fines of 5 million euros on Apple since the company missed the 15 January deadline to make changes ordered by the watchdog.

In late February Apple in a letter to the Dutch consumer affairs regulator argued that it has complied with an order to allow certain apps to use alternative payment methods.

To date, Apple has racked up fines totalling 45 million euros ($49 million), after the ninth penalty was handed out last week.

Apple proposal

According to Reuters, Apple submitted a fresh proposal to the ACM last week in a bid to halt the financial sanctions.

But an ACM official told Reuters the offer does not fully comply with its order.

According to ACM rules, once the fines reach the 50m euros mark, the fines can be increased.

The tech giant is facing intense scrutiny around the world for its mandatory in-app payment system and its levy of a 15 to 30 percent commission on in-app purchases in most cases.

Apple did not immediately provide a comment to Reuters.

Meanwhile, last week the the European Commission, EU governments and EU lawmakers agreed tough new rules, that will require firms like Apple to open up its App Store once the legislation comes into force in October.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) will allow for fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual global turnover, in the case of firms considered to be “gatekeepers”.

Apple said last year the DMA threatened to open a “Pandora’s box” that could expose iPhone users to security threats.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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