If you are developing a new iOS app, you may have questions about monetization. Are you required to always use Apple In-App Purchase? Can you use PayPal or Apple Pay instead? It all comes down to what products or services you are providing in your app. Here are our Apple In-App Payment Guidelines.
Based on App Store Review Guidelines, updated October 24, 2022. All guidelines are subject to App Store review and approval.
If you are selling physical goods in your app, Apple In-App payment guidelines do not require you to use Apple In-App Purchase.
For physical goods, you can use credit cards, Apple Pay, PayPal, Stripe, or many other payment solutions to capture payment information. You will not be subject to App Store fees for the payments. But you may be subject to fees for the other payment platforms.
Examples include clothing, sports equipment, home decor, custom art, food delivery, pet supplies, groceries, and more. Physical gift cards are also captured in this category, as long as the gift card is mailed to the customer.
Eligible non-profits may apply for approval from Apple to solicit donations inside their mobile app. These donations can be provided through Apple Pay instead of Apple In-App Purchase and aren’t subject to fees or commissions.
Learn more about Apple Pay for Donations.
Many mobile apps fall into this category. If you have digital content that is unlocked in your app via a one-time or subscription purchase, you must use Apple In-App Purchase.
If you have digital content that is unlocked in your app via a one-time or subscription purchase, you must use Apple In-App Purchase.
Examples of digital content include podcast or TV episodes, articles, recipes, removal of ads, customized app icons, and premium feature sets.
“Reader” apps, such as apps that provide news, movies, or music, have some special limitations. See below.
Mobile games are a popular category of app that often utilize in-app purchase. All in-game purchases must use Apple In-App Purchase. You cannot use PayPal, Stripe, or credit card payments.
In a 2021 lawsuit Epic, the maker of popular mobile game Fortnite, fought against these Apple restrictions. Learn about the outcome.
A “Tip Jar” is a popular way for app or content creators to collect small amounts of voluntary revenue from their customers. If collecting inside the app, you must use Apple In-App Purchase for your “tips” and will be subject to Apple fees.
Gift cards, certificates, vouchers, and coupons are all units that can be redeemed for digital goods or services. If you are selling them inside your app, you must use Apple In-App Purchase.
Minting, listing, and transferring NFTs is allowed inside your mobile app, but you must use Apple In-App Purchase for payments related to NFT services. Purchasing, owning, or viewing an NFT cannot unlock in-app functionality.
If a user pays for their in-app content to be seen by more users in your app, this qualifies as in-app advertising and you must use Apple for your payment platform.
A common example would be boosting a post in a social media profile.
If a user has ads running outside your app, and is managing or paying for them inside your app, you are not required to use Apple In-App Purchase.
Examples include managing TV ads, creating new search ads, and starting a billboard ad campaign.
Person-to-person services involve you selling your time to 1 customer. The customer may not get an artifact in return, but you will have spent time delivering them some value. Person-to-person services are not required to use Apple In-App Purchase and can use other methods.
Examples include massages, physical trainers, nutritionists, tutoring, and real estate tours.
Reader apps are defined as apps that allow users to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions, specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video.
If approved, your Reader app can have a special entitlement that allows users to manage their account and billing outside the app through a special link. When this link is in use, you cannot use Apple In-App Purchase and must only allow purchase of your services through your website.
If you do want to permit purchase inside the app, you must use Apple In-App Purchase and can’t use the External Link Account Entitlement.
A common example of this includes streaming video apps like Netflix. Many don’t allow you to subscribe inside the mobile app and only allow you to login to your existing account to access content.
Understanding which payment methods you need to use in your app is the first step to understanding app monetization.
If you need to use Apple In-App Purchase, Nami can help. With just a few lines of code, Nami handles payments for Apple and Google and allows you to focus on the app experience instead of the ins and outs of subscription management. Learn more.
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