Apple users will soon be able to do something that’s been missing for quite a while: receive and send tips directly from mobile apps. But of course, Apple will still be taking their cut of the action.
In-app tipping has long been a gray area for Apple. Officially, it wasn’t allowed. But some apps allowed users to buy “digital goods” that could be exchanged for cash and then sent to other users, who would in turn redeem them. Since that officially qualified as an in-app purchase, Apple took 30% of the total price before sending the developer their portion.
Apple’s anti-tipping stance was so staunch that they threatened to pull the popular WeChat app unless their tipping feature was nixed. That initiated a standoff between developers and the platform that led to infuriated developers. For some apps, tipping is a huge money maker. One Chinese sexuality/psychology blogger in particular makes almost $150 USD every single day in tips alone.
But now, Apple has changed (or clarified) their stance. The company announced this week that they would allow apps to legitimately incorporate tipping for content creators, but tips would be processed just like an in-app purchase. In short, Apple takes 30% off the top, and there’s a decent chance the app will take a cut of their own.
The hope is that this development would encourage some companies who have long eschewed tipping (we’re looking at you, Uber) to pick up the practice.
Having in-app tips is certainly a good move for Apple, but it’s coming at a hefty price. The question is, will Apple take the remaining tip money and give it to the developer, who will in then turn give it to the creator, or will Apple send the money straight to the person who received the tip?
Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be the former.