WeChat Disables Tipping Feature on iOS App

By Bridget O'Donnell, April 21, 2017

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WeChat has removed the popular tipping function on its iOS app, following failed negotiations with Apple.

The function, which allows users to reward emoji creators and articles shared on public accounts, was removed after it failed to comply with the American company's payment system terms, instituted last June. The function had iPhone users pay from within the app, rather than through Apple's payment system.

READ MORE: Glitches Mark Apple Pay's First Day in China

Android users are unaffected by the move, and the tipping function remains available for them.

According to WeChat parent company Tencent, Apple's new terms prohibit developers from adding buttons or links that direct customers to payment systems outside of the iOS. On Wednesday, Tencent announced that they would be using a QR code option instead of the tipping button, but this too violated Apple's terms.

"In the end, we regretfully decided to adjust WeChat's reward function on iOS after discussions with Apple," the company said on its official WeChat account.

Apple said in a statement that WeChat is allowed to keep the function, as long as it uses Apple's in-app purchase system. Apple receives a 30 percent cut of purchases made using its payment system and delivered via the Apple infrastructure.

READ MORE: New Pay-to-Read Feature Coming to WeChat

It's unclear at the moment if Apple will begin cracking down on other Chinese developers using their own payment systems for gaming, livestreaming and other types of apps. An IT expert criticized the move, telling state-run newspaper the Global Times:

"Apple's internal payment system is like a closed kingdom, and has been imposed on many Chinese companies in such sectors as games and social media."

WeChat, which has over 800 million users and 10 million public accounts for businesses, agencies and KOLs publishing daily content, currently holds a 38 percent share in China's mobile payment market, according to Bloomberg.

The incident is the latest in Apple's string of China struggles. Last year, the company was forced to shut down its iBooks and iTunes Movies platforms by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television after launching just a few months prior. Meanwhile, the Apple News app is still blocked and Apple TV remains unavailable.

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