South Korea’s communications watchdog, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), said on Tuesday it would investigate Apple and Google over possible breaches of the country’s in-app payment rule. Local media reports noted that the agency will begin this investigation on August 16.
Besides Apple and Google, the KCC is also investigating SK Group’s in-house app store called ONE Store. The watchdog said it had reviewed the practices of the three app stores since May 17 and determined they may have violated the country’s telecommunications law passed last year.
The new rule allows developers to use third-party payment options for in-app purchases and prevents app store operators from forcing them to use their own systems. apple and Google both have agreed to abide by these rules and offer a 4% discount on App Store fees for using alternative payment operators.
In guidelines released for developers in June, Apple asked developers targeting the South Korean App Store to submit a separate binary file for using third-party shopping systems.
Google’s policies regarding in-app purchases that came into force in June Google Play Billing mandate worldwide, except for regions like South Korea. However, these rules prohibit apps from including external payment links even in-country. The company blocked updates to the KakaoTalk chat app last month for violating these rules. In response, the South Korean messaging giant agreed to remove those links. Earlier this month, KakaoTalk said its special emoji purchases dropped by a third due to Google’s rule change. Korea’s rules don’t say anything explicitly about using external links as a payment option, so the country’s agency could investigate these actions.
The KCC said that if it finds companies breaking payment rules in the app, it will issue remedial orders or fines – which can be up to 2% of the company’s average annual revenue for the activities. related.
In response to KCC’s investigation, Google said it would cooperate with the investigation.
“We have worked closely with government stakeholders and our developer community to expand user choice in Korea under the new law, while continuing to ensure we can invest in the ecosystem and deliver a great experience. safe and high quality for everyone. As we have done at every step of this process, we will continue to cooperate with the KCC,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.
Apple and Google have both come under scrutiny over app store monopolies around the world. In addition to South Korea’s telecommunications law, the EU in July passed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to require tech giants to operate under fair business practices, which may prohibit app stores to use a single method of payment. US lawmakers are also considering rules to end Apple and Google’s monopoly on app distribution on mobile devices.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and we’ll update the story if we get back to you.
Story updated with Google’s development comment.