South Korea Investigates Apple Over Payment Rules

Apple may be facing an investigation by the government of South Korea over whether the tech giant is truly complying with the nation’s new requirements dealing with its payment systems.

As Reuters reported Friday (Oct. 15), the issue stems from South Korea’s recent changes to the Telecommunication Business Act in an effort to prevent tech giants Apple and Google for charging developers commissions on in-app purchases.

The law went into effect in September, with Apple telling the government of South Korea that it was already in compliance and didn’t need to update its app store policy.

“This goes against the purpose of the amended law,” one Korean Communications Commission official said, asking for anonymity as the government was still in talks with Apple.

The KCC will ask Apple’s South Korean operations for a new policy that gives more autonomy in payment methods. If Apple doesn’t comply, the KCC will consider conducting a fact-finding probe ahead of possible fines or other penalties.

The KCC official said Google had informed the commission it would comply with the law and allow third-party payment systems and would discuss the matter with the KCC next week.

Neither Google or Apple replied to requests for comment.

Apple has more to lose here than Google, said Jung Jong-chae, a lawyer who specializes in antitrust matters.

“(The) differences between Apple and Google in willingness to give ground may be because Apple controls everything from hardware to operating system (OS) to app market to payment system,” he said, “and (Apple) has more to lose if its dominance breaks on any front, which could lead to calls for openness on other fronts.”

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