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South Korea Is Putting The Pressure On Epic And Apple

South Korea is poised to pass a law forcing Apple and Google to allow alternative payment methods in their app stores, which would be a massive win for Epic Games. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, South Korea's National Assembly has passed a bill that would lessen the grip of the tech giants over their respective app stores and platforms. The bill will become law when it is signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose party strongly supports the bill.

The bill amends South Korea's Telecommunications Business Act, making it so app store operators, like Apple and Google, have to allow app makers to include alternative payment options. As it stands, Apple and Google don't allow this in most markets. Epic Games attempting to add its own payment system to "Fornite" on iOS is what led to Apple removing the game from its App Store, which resulted in a legal battle between Epic Games and Apple.

The bill also bans app store operators from unreasonably delaying an app's approval, or removing an app from the store, in order to prevent the stores from retaliating against app developers. Companies that fail to comply with the new laws would be fined 3% of their revenue in South Korea.

What does this mean outside of South Korea?

This bill could give Epic Games exactly what it asked for in its court battles against Apple and Google. While the lawsuit went to trial earlier this year, which led to some funny moments, a verdict has yet to be issued. However, if other countries follow South Korea's lead, Apple and Google may be forced to make changes to their app stores, regardless of the verdict. South Korea hopes to set an example for the world.

"As bills with similar implications are being proposed in the U.S. and Europe, South Korea's bill will become a cornerstone for legislating app market platform regulations world-wide," South Korean communications commission Chairman Han Sang-hyuk said.

The United States had a similar bill, named the Open App Markets Act, introduced into the U.S. Senate recently. The act would force app store operators to allow third-party payment options in the U.S. While it isn't clear if or when the bill could pass, the bill's existence shows an interest in dismantling the apparent monopolies that app store operators have.

For now, the South Korean law probably won't have any immediate impact outside of South Korea, since Apple and Google won't likely give up revenue willingly in other countries.