Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) claims that Apple has paid a $13.4 million fine relating to anti-competitive practices.
According to Russian news agency TASS, the fine – originally levied at 1.2 billion rubles (then worth $17.4 million) in September 2022 – was confirmed as received by Russian authorities.
“On January 19, 2024, Apple paid the fine. The money was received by the government of the Russian Federation,” said the FAS.
The fine stems from a 2021 ruling by the FAS which stated that Apple violated antitrust laws by prohibiting iOS developers from informing users of payment alternatives outside the App Store. Russian authorities argued this gave Apple an unfair advantage and harmed market competition.
“Apple forced Russian developers of iOS apps to use the company’s payment tool in their apps,” explained the FAS. “App Store rules prohibited iOS app developers from informing customers inside the app about the possibility of paying for purchases outside the App Store and using alternative payment methods.”
Apple has faced increasing scrutiny globally over the 30 percent commission it charges on App Store purchases, with critics arguing the “Apple tax” is excessive and abuses the company’s monopoly position. Last year, new legislation was introduced in the EU and US giving developers more freedom to bypass Apple’s payment system.
However, Russia’s FAS went further—demanding that Apple allow alternative payment options within apps, not just the ability to direct users elsewhere. Apple has so far not agreed to implement this change, despite paying the fine.
The fine payment comes amid a complex situation for Apple in Russia. While the company suspended all product sales and disabled Apple Pay services in Russia last March following the invasion of Ukraine, Russians can still access the App Store and other services.
Apple risks further regulatory action if it fails to comply with Russian law. However, it may also face legal and moral scrutiny for reportedly paying fines to the Russian government in the face of sanctions intended to limit the funding available to sustain the barbaric invasion of its neighbour.
The $13 million fine is small change for a company of Apple’s size and wealth. However, concessions over App Store payment policies could set an important precedent and spur further regulatory moves across the globe. For now, developers and consumers will wait to see if Apple softens its stance within the Russian marketplace.
(Photo by Michael Parulava on Unsplash)
See also: Apple may enable sideloading in Europe ‘in the coming weeks’
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