Just yesterday, we talked about the postponement of the vote, in South Korea, of the law that could completely change the way companies accept payments in their app stores. One would imagine that — as in other cases — the project had been “pushed in the belly” under the influence of the lobby Apple and Google, but… no, that’s not the case.
As informed by the Wall Street Journal, the National Assembly of South Korea approved today the law that will force App Store, O Google Play and other digital stores to accept alternative forms of payment — thus representing a significant upheaval in the operations of two of the largest technological giants in the world and setting a tremendous precedent for other countries to follow similar paths.
The vote did not take place yesterday simply because more urgent matters caused lawmakers to temporarily postpone the discussion. Even so, the theme was taken up again today and approved without major difficulties — the South Korean president’s party, Moon Jae-in, was one of the biggest supporters of the bill, and the head of state is expected to sign the new legislation as soon as possible.
According to the new regulation, which will come as an amendment to the Telecommunications Business Law local technology companies cannot “abuse their market power to force a mobile content provider [como a App Store] use a specific payment method”. That is: if they want, developers can offer subscriptions and internal purchases in their apps through other forms of payment, avoiding the fees (15% to 30%) of Apple and Google stores.
Change is one of the main flags of Epic Games in its crusade against the Apple — and, of course, the developer’s president, Tim Sweeney, went to Twitter to celebrate the news in Korea.
The giants, of course, are not at all pleased. Google said the decision will be harmful to developers and consumers; Apple, meanwhile, says passing the law will make the App Store a less secure place:
The proposed Telecommunications Business Act will put users who buy digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections and make their purchases more difficult to manage. Also, features such as Parental Controls and “Ask to Buy” will become less effective.
The fact is, well, now the boat will have to go. Apple and Google still have a boost: the chairman of the South Korean Communications Commission, Han Sang-hyuk, stated before the vote that the agency will continue to discuss how the law will be implemented, noting that “adjustments can be made in the execution” of the new rules, taking into account the interests of companies, shareholders and users.
Even so, attention is now turning to the rest of the world: United States, European Union and Australia are some of the territories that discuss similar legislation, and South Korea’s initial step could be decisive for other places to start discussing rules similar. As for Apple and Google… only the future will tell how companies will deal with this new horizon.