Apple is aiming to firmly regulate China’s tipping economy with the introduction of two new App Store policies according to a report by Quartz.
Apple is known to have an iron grip on what apps can or cannot do, however the policy for tipping was unclear.
This has now changed with the addition of one of its new rules, stating that tipping is considered “an in-app purchase,” and must undergo Apple’s internal App Store payment system.
This is set to hit the massive tipping economy in China where users pay content creators small sums of money via digital wallets. This is prevalent across many of China’s livestreaming apps and WeChat, and could serve to increase the tension between the two tech giants.
Currently tipping is only allowed via buying virtual coins from WeChat via Apple’s payment system. Apple takes a 30% cut on every purchase, from the App Store or in-app.
According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, 10.7% of WeChat users are said to use the tip feature, with 37% giving five to 10 yuan a month.
While it is not clear whether WeChat will implement Apple’s policy, the key question is if the virtual currency can be converted back to cash. If unable to, WeChat creative users will be upset, with their income cut by a third and useless outside of WeChat.
The other policy released targets WeChat’s new mini programs, which are “apps within apps.” The restrictions state that these programs can’t be offered in a “store or store-like interface.”
While Apple will likely tread lightly in enforcing these policies in China, the tech giant is faced with a choice of appearing like a paper tiger or be on the bad list with the Chinese government.