A popular feature that allowed WeChat users to tip emoji and content creators for their work will be shut down after parent company Tencent confirmed that in its current instantiation it is not compliant with Apple’s in-app purchase policies.
Though the issue has been negotiated for months, Tencent has announced that it must “regrettably” abolish the feature on the instant message service to comply with new terms of service released by Apple in June. Tencent says Apple has announced that developers will be barred from including buttons or links that direct customers to purchasing systems outside of its iOS ecosystem.
Tipping had been a large part of Tencent’s growth plan for WeChat — and one that had worked quite well. To tip, users had to store funds in their Tencent wallet — building a habit around that practice — and developers and designers had a reason to do good work to compete for tips.
Tencent didn’t disclose the number of content creators — they’re part of more than 10 million official accounts run by individuals, corporations and government agencies that broadcast news and updates to users.
Apple said in a statement that WeChat could still allow users to tip as long as it used Apple’s own in-app purchase system. But Tencent users tend to prefer QR, which Apple is not compatible with (because Apple does no believe QR is adequately secure).
Tencent is one of the biggest players in mobile app transactions: Its payment system accounted for about 38 percent of market share in China at the end of the third quarter, according to research firm Analysys International.
Tipping will remain open for business on Android, which is the dominant handset brand in the region.
Apple and Tencent aren’t the only firms suffering from the new tipping agenda — Uber finds itself facing vocal parties in New York that would like to see it opened up for tipping.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission put forth a proposal this week requesting that car services only accept credit cards if there’s a tip option available. Uber does not currently allow for tipping.
New York City’s Taxi Commissioner, Meera Joshi, commented on how this new proposal would impact the ridesharing industry in the area: “This rule proposal will be an important first step to improve earning potential in the for-hire vehicle industry, but it is just one piece of a more comprehensive effort to improve the economic well-being of drivers.”
With 16 million passengers in Oct. 2016, the proposal argues that its drivers are losing out on a large portion of their income. In March of this year, Lyft reported its drivers received $200 million in tips alone.