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South Korea's KCC Targets Google, and Apple Over In-app Payment Rules

Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Seoul, South Korea - The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) is considering fines against Google and Apple for allegedly violating the country's in-app payment rules.

Why it matters:  

South Korea's regulatory action could influence other countries considering similar in-app payment policies.

This could lead to changes in the international framework for the app market.

The Key Points

  • Proposed fines: Google faces a potential fine of KRW 47.5 billion ($35.4 million), while Apple could be fined KRW 20.5 billion ($15 million). The total fine is KRW 68 billion ($50.42 million).
  • Overview of the investigation: In August 2022, the KCC launched an investigation into Google Play and the App Store regarding their specific in-app payment methods. The regulator found inconsistencies that affected app developers.
  • Key concerns: The KCC found that both companies violated South Korea's revised Telecommunications Business Act. The allegations suggest that the companies imposed special billing systems on local publishers and delayed the review of apps. The KCC also said that Apple's fee structure for local developers was discriminatory.
  • Legislative Background: In 2021, South Korea passed a law prohibiting app store operators from imposing special in-app payment systems on developers, a first.

The Big Picture:

  • International Perspective: The KCC's action reflects an increased global focus on prominent U.S. tech companies, particularly given their influential role in digital industries.
  • Broader Context: The KCC's stance suggests a potential impact on market competition. The exact fines will be confirmed following feedback from the companies involved and subsequent regulatory discussions.
  • Company responses: Google noted its efforts to comply with the new rules and called the KCC's announcement a "pre-notice". Apple disputed the regulator's findings and pointed to its consistent engagement with South Korean app developers.