Apple writes to Dutch antitrust regulator following another weekly €5 million fine

A dating app on a phone
The company said its disagreement with ACM may end up back in the courts. Photo credit: Getty Images

Apple has written to the Dutch antitrust regulator after it was again fined 5 million euro (NZ$8.3 million) for failing to comply with the watchdog's order on in-app payments.

It followed a mandate from the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) that Apple needed to allow dating apps in the Netherlands to be able to use third-party payment processors.

Apple maintains it is doing so, but by still charging 27 percent commission on top of any additional fees for using third-party payment providers, it's likely the dating apps would actually be worse off.

The ACM has now fined the tech giant the same amount six weeks in a row, saying after last week's fine Apple's offering wasn't a "serious proposal".

The company's letter to the ACM said it was "committed to following the law in each and every market in which it does business".

"The Netherlands is no different. Apple has taken concrete and specific steps to implement in full the ACM's order since the court's decision on Christmas Eve," Apple's Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer wrote.

To be able to offer third-party payment opportunities each developer needs to submit a separate version of their apps to the Dutch app store.

"This is a straightforward prerequisite that ensures that Apple complies with its legal obligations in the Netherlands while at the same time having the ability to maintain its standard terms and conditions in the rest of the world," it said.

"There are no additional costs associated with this approach."

Apple says the changes it implemented makes it "fully compliant with Dutch law", and seems to suggest the onus is, instead, on the developers. That doesn't address the issue of the 27 percent commission, however.

Apple's apparent intransigence drew the ire of Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition regulator and European Commission vice president, last week.

She said gatekeepers like Apple could be tempted to play for time to circumvent the rules.

"As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access its app store," she said.

"Effective enforcement, which includes the Commission having sufficient resources to do so, will be key to ensure compliance."

Apple signed off its letter acknowledging the problem may end up back in the courts.

"I understand that currently we have a difference of opinion that may ultimately have to be resolved by a court. I hope we can find a mutually agreeable solution that will allow us to move past this issue," Andeer wrote.

A statement from the ACM said it wasn't aware of any change in the Cupertino-based company's position, hence it was imposing the new fine.