App developers in South Korea can now use third-party payment systems, Apple announced in a blog post Thursday.
The change is Apple's response to legislation in South Korea that prevents app store operators from forcing developers to use their own in-app payment systems. Now, developers can use alternatives and bypass Apple and Google's 30% commission by accepting money directly from consumers. The law was an amendment to South Korea's Telecommunications Business Act, passed last summer.
The law frustrated Apple and Google at the time — both lobbied the Biden administration to intervene — and ultimately both companies have since complied, though South Korean lawmakers have taken issue with Google's implementation because it still imposes high fees on developers that opt to use an alternative system. Apple initially argued the rule would open the door for fraud, undermine user privacy and make it harder to manage payments.
Developers can now use Apple's so-called "StoreKit External Purchase Entitlement," which lets apps distributed on the App Store in South Korea offer an alternative payment option, to comply with the new law. "Developers who want to continue using Apple’s in-app purchase system may do so and no further action is needed," Apple wrote in the blog.
Apple also said developers who choose to use external payment systems won't be able to use features like Ask to Buy or Family Sharing because the company can't validate payments that occur outside the App Store's "private and secure payment system." The company also can't help with refunds, purchase history , subscription management and other issues users may face by using third-party systems. "You will be responsible for addressing such issues," Apple wrote in the blog.
In a separate document, Apple details how, like Google, it still intends to charge a high commission — in this case, 26% — for transactions outside its payment system. Developers are responsible for reporting sales to Apple on a monthly basis in order to pay the requisite fees. "Apps that are granted an entitlement to use a third-party in-app payment provider will pay Apple a commission on transactions," the company explained. "Apple will charge a 26% commission on the price paid by the user, gross of any value-added taxes. This is a reduced rate that excludes value related to payment processing and related activities."
Other countries have begun to target Apple's in-app payment systems. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets ordered Apple to allow dating app developers in the Netherlands access to third-party payment systems, which Apple complied with after several fines. The European Union's Digital Markets Act includes rules for Apple to let users install apps from external sources, while a U.S. judge ruled last year that Apple must tell customers about alternative payment methods as a result of Fortnite maker Epic Games' antitrust lawsuit. Apple appealed that decision.