September 8, 2021Big Tech distrust catalyses South Korea app law

South Korea has passed a law to prevent Google and Apple from restricting app developers to their own built-in payment systems. The law comes amid South Koreans' growing anti-Big Tech sentiment and could provide opportunities for smaller businesses in the sector.


South Korea has passed a bill that bans Google and Apple from restricting app developers to their built-in payment systems. The law is a major attack on the tech giants’ lucrative commissions – they charge up to 30% on sales of digital goods through their app stores. For failing to comply, app stores could be fined up to 3% of their revenue in South Korea. The law would also prevent app stores from delaying approvals or unnecessarily removing apps from their app stores. Epic Games is suing Google and Apple for alleged anti-competitive behaviour – Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, says the law is a “major milestone in the 45-year history of personal computing.”

With similar bills due in the EU and the US Senate, there are signs of growing anti-Big Tech sentiment worldwide, particularly related to anti-competitive behaviour, which stops many small players from flourishing. In South Korea, people have become less trusting of the tech sector – while trust sits at 71%, that's a ten-point drop from 2020. With this law, gaming apps, which have often been battling with the tech giants, may find themselves with greater opportunities to use lower-priced payment systems to charge users and to engage in other means of monetisation. Brands and developers can respond to the tide of concern around Big Tech and the legislation that comes with it, as this may result in a more level playing field in digital services.

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