WeChat abolishes tipping feature on iPhones

Apple iPhone 6s models are on product display following an Apple event. (Eric Risberg, AP)
Apple iPhone 6s models are on product display following an Apple event. (Eric Risberg, AP)

Hong Kong - Tencent Holdings Ltd. is shutting down a popular feature on WeChat that allows iPhone users to tip emoji and content creators to comply with Apple Inc.’s policy on in-app purchases.

After months of negotiations, Tencent said on its official WeChat account it “regrettably” had to abolish the feature on the instant message service to comply with new terms Apple laid down in June.

According to Tencent, the iPhone maker said developers would be barred from including buttons or links that direct customers to purchasing systems outside of its iOS ecosystem.

Tencent’s doing away with a function credited with helping WeChat become China’s dominant mobile social media and payments platform, with more than 889 million users.

Tipping encouraged users to deposit more money within the app’s wallet, while motivating writers and emoji designers to compete for tips, enhancing the overall quality of content.

While Tencent doesn’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.

Tencent’s latest suggestion for users is that they employ QR codes to receive payments instead, a practice that still isn’t compliant with Apple’s policies.

It’s unclear how other Chinese developers, from live-streaming to gaming apps, that employ their own tipping or payment features are affected.  

Tencent is one of the biggest players in mobile app transactions: its payment system accounted for about 38% of market share in China at the end of the third quarter, according to research firm Analysys International.

The changes to payments target only the iPhone version of WeChat - tipping remains available to all users of Google’s Android, which power the vast majority of smartphones in the country.

Separately, Beijing’s internet regulators said on Wednesday they are planning to inspect Apple on the way it screens apps, after authorities ordered three Chinese streaming sites to patch up “significant loopholes” related to content violation, user classification and identity verification, the official news agency Xinhua reported. 


Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

ZAR/USD
16.23
(-0.67)
ZAR/GBP
21.03
(-0.30)
ZAR/EUR
19.26
(-0.59)
ZAR/AUD
11.87
(-0.47)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.81)
Gold
1955.05
(+0.40)
Silver
26.99
(-0.15)
Platinum
933.00
(+0.11)
Brent Crude
43.78
(+2.41)
Palladium
2352.50
(+1.23)
All Share
54716.77
(-0.58)
Top 40
50399.16
(-0.59)
Financial 15
9841.32
(-2.14)
Industrial 25
72558.00
(-1.08)
Resource 10
55438.10
(+0.58)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 1289 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
73% - 8600 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
16% - 1892 votes
Vote