A new South Korean law recently approved prevents large platforms, such as Apple and Google, from restricting payment systems.
Both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have the same limitation: it is only possible to make payments using their platforms. In this way, both companies keep 30% of each transfer made both in stores and in apps. Developers who have tried to get around that limitation have not ended well; the most famous case was that of Fortnite , which with an update allowed the direct purchase of its virtual currency. The Epic Games game was kicked out of both stores, and the developer is now locked in a legal battle with both techs.
The latest amendment to the Korean telecommunications law expressly prohibits such practices , and although it has not yet been signed by President Moon Jae-in, it is expected to be a matter of time, as it is his own party that proposed the amendment. .
With the new law, all platform operators will have to offer alternative methods to make payments, and will not be able to force them to use theirs; Those who do not comply with the law risk fines that can reach up to 3% of their income in the Asian country.
Although this measure only affects South Korea, it is a matter of concern for Apple and Google, who fear it may be the first of many similar laws in the European Union and the US, and both have criticized the measure. Google claims that the law has gone through a hasty process, which has not allowed an analysis of the supposed negative impact it will have on consumers and developers; Apple is even more blunt, stating that the new law puts users at risk of fraud and lowers their privacy protections. They have also questioned the legality of the new text, since it could violate a trade agreement between South Korea and the US, by which the former agrees not to control US companies.
Still, greater control over app stores seems inevitable around the world, especially given recent accusations of anti-competitive practices by some American and European politicians. In fact, Korean law can serve as a basis and reference for those already in development.
Meanwhile, big tech companies are looking for ways to avoid this inevitable future. Recently, Apple reached an agreement with US developers to allow other payment methods; but they cannot be integrated into the App Store and therefore such an agreement would not be enough to avoid the fine in Korea.