The law represents a major challenge to Apple and Google, both of which have long mandated that apps eschew outside payment mechanisms in favor of allowing transactions to flow only through their systems. The bill’s imminent passage is the culmination of a long-running fight in Seoul, during which both Google and Apple fought the bill as it made its way through South Korea’s legislature while simultaneously urging trade officials in Washington to push back on the proposed law.
For the first time, a new South Korean law is likely to threaten Apple and Google’s control over app store payments, putting the 30 percent cut the corporations take through their platforms in peril. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill would amend South Korea’s Telecommunications Business Act to prevent Apple and Google from requiring app developers to use their proprietary in-app purchasing systems, as well as prohibiting the companies from “unreasonably delaying the approval of apps or deleting them from the marketplace—provisions that are expected to be signed soon by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose party has long endorsed the legislation. If the corporations do not comply, they may be forced to lose up to 3% of their profits.
In a statement to The Verge, Google defended its service fees, arguing that the surcharge “helps keep Android free,” and gives developers “the tools and global platform to access billions of consumers around the world.”