WeChat shuts down 'tipping' function on iOS over Apple dispute

Liu Yang China Plus Published: 2017-04-20 15:35:10
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Users of iOS devices can no longer provide a "tip" to writers they like on Tencent's instant messaging service WeChat as of Wednesday after Tencent failed to settle a dispute with Apple.

Screenshots of the "tipping" interfaces on WeChat [Photo: sohu.com]

Screenshots of the "tipping" interfaces on WeChat [Photo: sohu.com]

The "tipping" function on WeChat gave users the option of donating a small amount of money to authors on their individual accounts after reading an article.

The function was shut down on Wednesday due to Apple's restrictions on third-party payment links, Tencent announced on its official WeChat account.

Apple says WeChat's "tipping" function violated rule "3.1.1 In-App Purchase" of its App Store Review Guidelines, which says that "Apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than IAP[In-App Purchase]," ThePaper.cn reports.

The "tipping" button on WeChat was equivalent to "external links" mentioned by Apple, according to ThePaper.cn.

A screenshot of rule "3.1.1 In-App Purchase" on Apple's App Store [Screenshot: China Plus]

A screenshot of rule "3.1.1 In-App Purchase" on Apple's App Store [Screenshot: China Plus]

Tencent announced on Wednesday that after the "tipping" function was shut down, individual WeChat accounts of these writers could add a QR code at the end of their articles, which enables users of iOS devices to tip them.

However, Tencent was later forced to backtrack on that suggestion, noting that transferring money to writers using a QR Code was not allowed by Apple.

Apple said on Thursday that WeChat could enable readers to tip writers they like through the Apple App Store's in-app purchases.

Apple said, "just like we provide this option [in-app purchase] to all App developers, WeChat only needs to use in-app purchases to carry out the function [the "tipping" button]," ThePaper.cn reports.

Apple charges a 30 percent commission on App developers on all purchases made through the App Store's in-app purchases.

Screenshots of WeChat interfaces on Apple's App Store [Photo: apple.com]

Screenshots of WeChat interfaces on Apple's App Store [Photo: apple.com]

Users of Android and other mobile operating systems are still able to use the "tipping" function on WeChat.

Some observers are suggesting the reason behind Apple's decision was concern about WeChat Pay's increasing popularity in China, as Apple Pay struggles to attract Chinese customers, according to ThePaper.cn.

In China, Payment methods approved by Apple's App Store include Alipay and UnionPay debit or credit cards, but not WeChat Pay.

The incident has prompted calls for anti-monopoly probes against Apple. In an editorial, ThePaper.cn accused Apple of using its monopoly of the iOS operating system to quash competing payment systems and urged government regulators to intervene.

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