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Apple now allows direct payment links but charges 27% commission

Apple has detailed how direct payments will work on iOS following the resolution of its long-running legal battle with Epic Games – and it will claim a 27% commission on proceeds generated through these methods.

According to the revised guidelines, developers must now apply for an ‘entitlement’ (detailed below), and must still include the option to purchase through Apple’s own billing system. Direct payment links are to be offered as an alternative, not a replacement.

Apple will still charge a 27% commission on any proceeds earned from sales made through links to external payment systems. This commission is 12% for participants in the iOS firm’s Small Business Program.

These changes only apply to the iOS and iPadOS App Stores in the United States. In all other markets, developers are banned from using buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct users to purchase methods other than those within the app.

Developers must apply for a StoreKit External Link Entitlement. Once they have submitted their request, Apple will review the app to “ensure it complies with the terms and conditions of the entitlement,” in addition to the usual App Store review guidelines and its Developer Program License Agreement.

If approved, developers may add links to their games that let players purchase in-game items directly from the studio, and inform them that doing so may be cheaper than buying in-game.

Developers will need to provide a transaction report within 15 calendar days of the end of each month, even if there have been no direct purchases made during that time.

Apple has also made some stipulations, such as that the link to external payment systems must:

Go directly to the developer’s website without any redirect or intermediate links, or landing page
Open a new window in the device’s default browser, rather than a web view within the app
Not mimic Apple’s in-app purchase system, or discourage users from using it
Not be displayed more than once in the app, or on more than one app page

CNBC also reported that Apple will add a pop-up screen warning users of the “risks they are assuming when they leave the Apple ecosystem” when they click the link to external payment systems.

Developers are also not allowed to mention or promote the option of direct payments in the app’s App Store product page.

As ruled in the 2021 trial, Apple can no longer prevent developers from directing players to alternative payment options, such as buying directly from them. Epic believed direct payment options would avoid the 30% fee Apple takes from all transactions made through iOS apps.

Apple delayed making these changes while it appealed against this decision, but CNBC reported it updated its processes and developer guidelines on Tuesday after the US Supreme Court rejected appeals from both the iOS firm and Epic.

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